There’s a difference between going out for sushi and sitting down to an omakase sushi meal. During the latter, there are no menus and sometimes, no waiters. The chef chooses what’s being prepared, how it’s presented, the pacing and so on. For diners, there are virtually no decisions to be made—other than perhaps what you’d like to drink. Essentially, you’re relinquishing all control and agreeing to go on an expertly crafted culinary journey. (Trust us, it’s as fun as it is delicious.) Wondering where you can eat sushi omakase style in NJ? Check out our guide of NJ restaurants with omakase menus below.
What Does Omakase Mean?
The Japanese word “omakase” translates to “I will leave it to you.” In Japan, dining omakase is a traditional and performative experience where the chef is in total control. Although, this isn’t just to take the pressure off of indecisive diners. When sitting down to an omakase experience, you’re saying that you trust and respect the chef’s professional opinion—to know what’s the best quality, what’s fresh, what’s in season.
What is an Omakase Meal?
Omakase is in an experience. There’s true artistry behind what these chefs do and the tradition behind it. Guests are oftentimes seated at a counter or bar and dishes are prepared right in front of them. You can watch along as the chef carefully slices through pieces of fish, shapes the rice between his or her fingers and if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll even set some stuff on fire.
Omakase meals are prepared on the spot and consist of multiple courses. The number can vary, along with the price, but diners can expect anywhere from nine and up to 30 courses depending on the restaurant. If that sounds like a lot, note that the dishes are very small and typically contain one piece of sushi or sashimi per plate.
The overall dining experience is an intimate one. There are a limited number of guests and typically two or three seatings per night—each of which is timed. In order to begin, each party must be seated. During your reservation, you’ll be allowed to connect one-on-one with the chef, either with words or without. To the chef, their food is how they communicate—a tangible (and edible) expression of their creativity and skill.
11 NJ Restaurants With Omakase Menus
Omakase dinners have grown in popularity throughout the U.S., including right here in the Garden State. Open-minded guests looking for an omakase experience in New Jersey should head to these restaurants.
Sushi By Bou – Jersey City, NJ
What separates Sushi By Bou in Jersey City is that it’s a “sushi speakeasy.” Located inside Ani Ramen on Newark Ave, diners will walk through Ani’s main dining room and enter Sushi By Bou through a back door. This small omakase counter has only eight seats and seatings have a 60-minute maximum. The experience itself is super intimate and includes a 12-piece omakase meal priced at $50 per person. Guests can also accompany their meal with a cocktail, selection of sakes or Japanese beer.
DOMODOMO – Jersey City, NJ
Next time you’re at DOMODOMO in Jersey City, skip the hand rolls (we know they’re tempting) and opt for the DOMOKASE experience. For $65, it includes 12 pieces of sushi plus hot and cold dishes—for example, think a seasonal Negi Toro hand roll and lemon sorbet. Guests who want to dine omakase style are seated exclusively at the restaurant’s sushi bar.
Sushi Kai- Fort Lee, NJ
Sushi Kai in Fort Lee is offering one of the higher-end experiences on this list. The BYOB restaurant serves its dishes strictly omakase style and operates on a “reservation-only basis.” Seatings here are limited to 90 minutes and a meal runs $155 per person. The tasting menu includes appetizers, sashimi, nigiri and dessert—all highlighting fresh, in-season ingredients. From the elegant plating to the chef’s true artistry on display, consider Sushi Kai one of the premier omakase options in NJ.
Sushi by Sea – Undisclosed NJ Locations
You’ll never know where this omakase experience will be popping up next…literally. Sushi by Sea is invite-only and its location is only revealed to those who are attending shortly before, along with a password to enter. In order to be invited, diners can be referred by past guests or register through their website to enter a waitlist.
So what can goers expect? Occurring twice a month, the $150 meal is said to last approximately two hours and includes 16 courses and complimentary sake. While the menu is on rotation with each event, past dishes have featured king salmon belly, sawara and rose-shaped fluke, to name a few. This NJ omakase concept comes from Jay Powles, an Edgewater resident who originally hails from South Africa.
Shumi – Ridgewood, NJ
This Japanese restaurant offers traditional dining options, along with a focus on omakase. At Shumi, guests can dine omakase style with a seat at the chef’s counter (which we recommend) or at a standard table. The former allows guests to observe “the traditional art of sushi making.” Either way, there’s one important choice to be made—will you go with the regular menu ($80) or special ($120)? The latter includes luxurious extras such as Dungeness crab, however, you can’t really go wrong with this chef-selected menu.
Sushi Aoki – Fort Lee, NJ
There are only 10 seats at this uber-exclusive omakase restaurant in Fort Lee, NJ. Sushi Aoki, named after the restaurant’s chef-owner, Masashi Aoki, serves up some of the best sushi in the state. Here, diners have two omakase options available. Currently, there’s a $120 experience with three appetizers, 12 pieces of sushi, soup, dessert and roasted Japanese green tea. Readers should note that starting April 1, the price of this option will change to $135 but includes four appetizers. If you’re the type of person who knows what they want to eat in advance, parties of two or more can inquire about the $200 omakase experience which includes five appetizers, sashimi, 12 pieces of sushi, one hand roll, soup, dessert and green tea.
Ai Sushi – Somerville, NJ
At Ai Sushi in Somerville, you can get an omakase-style meal at the restaurant’s sushi bar or have it served tableside. (Although, you’d be remiss to not opt for the former.) Ai Sushi boasts traditional Japanese entrées, appetizers and noodles, as well as two omakase experiences for more adventurous eaters. There’s a sushi-only option for $75 or a sushi and sashimi combo at $90 per person.
Vanity at Monroe’s – Hoboken, NJ
This newly opened omakase concept doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar of its own but rather, it can be found inside of Monroe’s. The Hoboken restaurant itself boasts a 1950s theme, a Frank Sinatra-inspired speakeasy downstairs and now, a private omakase room. Guests enter Vanity via a secret mirror and are transported to a beautifully decorated room with a private bar.
Instead of counter service, guests are seated at tables and can pair their sushi with Japanese-inspired cocktails, sake and whisky flights. There is a chef on-site preparing dishes and delivering them personally to diners. An omakase meal here includes 14 courses at $75 per person with seatings on Wednesdays through Sundays.
Ryujin Sushi – Bridgewater, NJ
The atmosphere of Ryujin Sushi is as modern and elegant as its food. Here, guests will find small plates (both warm and cold), salads, 24-hour ramen, rice and noodle bowls, in addition to sushi and sashimi offerings. Those interested in the latter would be wise to order from the chef’s tasting menu.
The “Tokyo set” includes 12 pieces plus one maki roll for $70 or you can opt for eight pieces and one maki roll for $50. The “Osaka set” is served nigiri style and similarly includes five pieces plus a maki roll for $55 or eight pieces and a maki roll for $80. Both sets are also served with miso soup and edamame.
Yamagata – Fort Lee, NJ
Yamagata is a local favorite for Japanese food in Fort Lee. This NJ restaurant offers an $80 per person omakase experience. The tasting includes a chef-selected assortment of sushi and sashimi. If you’re a party of two, there’s an omakase experience for $120 that includes 10 pieces of sushi/sashimi each, one roll each and two miso soups.
Saku – Hoboken, NJ
Hobokenites love them some Saku and luckily, this Japanese fusion restaurant just started offering omakase experiences every Wednesday and Thursday (with a reservation). The 45-minute tastings take place in Saku’s Dark Room. For $65 per person, they include an amuse-bouche, six pieces of sushi, hand roll and miso soup. The chef prepares a new menu every week.
Have you had an omakase meal at any of these NJ restaurants? Let us know in the comments!