Japanese omakase restaurants (which roughly translates as “leaving the menu up to the chef”) have become a big thing in London of late. Long tasting menus, often sushi-led, are delivered in some of London’s most beautiful dining rooms. Here’s our pick of the best along with a guide to the restaurants where you can get the experience on a (slightly) smaller budget.
High-end omakase restaurants
The very best omakase restaurants don’t come cheap, but the quality is going to be outstanding.
Mayfair – 56b South Molton Street, London W1K 5SH
Roji comes from the same people behind Chisou (it’s right next to their Mayfair restaurant) and is run by the husband and wife team of Tamas Naszai and Tomoko Hasegawa. In the beautiful room hidden down a Mayfair side street, they’re serving up a seasonal eight-course menu (of which one course is a parade of nigiri) all sourced from local suppliers. With just ten seats on offer it’s an intimate experience.
How much: £170
How big: 10 seats, two sittings
White City – Television Centre, 8th Floor, The Helios, 101 Wood Ln, London W12 7FR
Endo at The Rotunda is the first and flagship restaurant from sushi chef Endo Kazutoshi, who has since created a mini London restaurant empire (including Sumi and Humo). The Michelin-starred restaurant has views over White City from the top of the old BBC Television Studio with a counter made from 200-year-old Hinoki wood at the heart of the restaurant. Sushi is handed directly to you from chef to diner’s hands and the sake-pairing takes it to the next level.
How much: £225
How big: 15 seats, two sittings
Mayfair – 36 Albemarle St, London W1S 4JE
Taku comes from Chef Takuya Watanabe who left his restaurant in Paris for London and was rewarded by getting a Michelin star in London in a matter of months. The signature omakase menu is the main affair, but if you’re feeling extremely spendy, the Prestige adds on extras like caviar and truffle and it’s one of the most expensive omakase menus as a result. Here, dishes are prepared in edomae style, a traditional technique dating back centuries, where fresh fish is cured and stored in vinegar to bring out the flavour.
How much: Tasting omakase £130 (lunch only), Signature omakase £280, Prestige £380
How big: 16 seats, one seating at lunch, two at dinner
18 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London W1J 7QH
Maru took over the space that used to be Taka (before it migrated to Marylebone) and comes from the same people. The focus at Maru is on Omotenashi, which means that everything centres around the diner’s experience (adding a little bit of theatre). The chef, Taiji Maruyama, has also gone the extra mile in being involved in the look of Maru – from the interior design to actually handmaking the crockery himself. Seasonal and local ingredients are another focus here and they aim to source all ingredients from the British Isles.
How much: £210
Brixton – 58D Atlantic Rd, London SW9 8PY
While many omakase restaurants can be found in central London, this Brixton restaurant is a big hit. It originally popped up at Ichiban Sushi before taking over the space completely. It’s a much more laid-back iteration of an omakase menu, particularly one based around a counter (here all the main tables are put together to make the counter). So if you’re after a slightly more casual experience (it’s a real family affair), this should be worth a look. It’s led by chef Chris Restrepo, who studied at Tokyo Sushi Academy, and it got a rave review from Jay Rayner.
How much: £145
Clerkenwell – 12 Jerusalem Passage, London EC1V 4JP
Sushi Tetsu is one of the more longstanding omakase restaurants in London and one of the smallest too. Let by another husband and wife team (see also Roji above) Toru and Harumi Takahashi, the restaurant is one of the very hardest to get a seat at in the whole of London. They also keep things very secretive – only pictures of your food are allowed. If you do manage to get a booking (you can book for only the week ahead every Monday, from 11am to 2pm) then you’ll be part of a very rare group that has dined at one of London’s very best sushi restaurants.
How much: Circa £160
How big: 7 seats, two seatings
How to book: Call 020 3217 0090
Not so high-end omakase restaurants
Here are some places where you can still have that omakase experience, but your bank balance takes less of a hammering.
King’s Cross – 11 Goods Way, Kings Cross, London N1C 4PW
Sushi on Jones originally started out as an outdoor sushi counter in New York before coming to London as part of the Goods Way venue in King’s Cross. Here, it’s more of a traditional omakase venue, seating eight around a counter on the first floor. It’s a speedy affair, taking only about 45 minutes to go through the whole dinner, but if you’re looking for an introduction to omakase, this is a good start.
How much: £48
Soho – 16A D’Arblay Street, London W1F 8EA
While many of the omakase restaurants we’re covering concentrate a fair bit on sushi, that doesn’t always have to be the case as shown by Soho’s Dai Chi. Coming from the people behind Dalston’s Angelina, this has a focus on kushikatsu (aka breaded, deep-fried skewers). The menu remains great value, and their milk bun skewers (with different fillings) are excellent.
How much: 6 courses £42, 8 courses £59
Belgravia – Pantechnicon, 19 Motcomb St, London SW1X 8LB
Sachi (in the basement of Belgravia’s Pantechnicon) comes from chef Collin Hudston (previously at Dinings and Roka) and features a Japanese menu with a few Nordic influences and ingredients. Available only at lunch, Sachi strips down its omakase offering to a four-course affair that includes miso soup, and (at the time of writing) a maki course. You’ll also find a plant-based omakase option here.
How much: £35
Soho – 103-105 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1DB
Arcade Food Hall, with its various counters, is a somewhat perfect space for a stripped-back omakase affair. Sushi Kamon comes from the people behind Yashin Sushi and features dishes like Tempura prawn sandos on their menu. Much like Sushi on Jones, it’s a swift 45-minute affair, and a good stepping stone to a more involved omakase experience.
How much: £45
Marylebone – 132 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London W1H 1NS
Junsei sees more skewer action at the heart of its menu, being primarily all about yakitori. For the omakase menu, you’ll ideally be sat at the counter but it’s also available throughout the restaurant. They’ll pick some of the best skewers from the menu for you, as well as a few off-menu specials.
How much: £60
Soho – 54 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4SL
Humble Chicken has moved far beyond its original setup as a chicken-based yakitori restaurant. Now in version 2.0, chef Angelo Sato is serving up an omakase menu that takes its influences from both Japanese and European cooking. Highlights are the mussel served with citrus kosho ponzu and avocado (see above) while the shokupan and butter is quite amazing. Something to go to if you’re looking for a proper twist on a standard omakase dinner.
How much: £125 (including a glass of bubbles)
Marylebone – 43 Chiltern St, London W1U 6LS
While Mayha’s main affair is upstairs, where they’re serving a £220 menu on an 11-seater counter, downstairs they’re offering a stripped-down menu that’s paired with cocktails. There you’ll get a five-course menu, with each dish paired with a different cocktail. So if you want your drinks expertly paired with your meal (and prefer cocktails over wine/sake), book a space down here.
How much: £135 for both cocktails and food
The Araki (Mayfair) – Once a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, it lost its stars when chef Mitsuhiro Araki returned to Tokyo, although chef Marty Lau had been trained by him to take over (Omakase menu: £310)
Cubé (Mayfair) – This Mayfair restaurant actually has two sushi bars, each seating six). An a la carte menu is available, but there’s also a 10-course omakase (£108)
Roketsu (Mayfair) – Here you’ll find a very specific Kaiseki tasting menu, with a dashi stock at the base of the menu (£190)
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