Fujiwara Kanefusa Molybdenum Stainless Japanese Chef’s Honesuki (Boning) Knife 145mm

Fujiwara Kanefusa Molybdenum Stainless Japanese Chef's Honesuki (Boning) Knife 145mm

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The crunchy tempura prawns accompanied by the delicious, mouth-watering slices of fresh, caught-from-sea Mackerel and Fatty Tuna are not only the must-haves when it comes to Japanese cuisine. Diners from all parts of the world fall in love with the beauty of Japanese dishes and Japanese delicacies like those of sashimi and sushi dishes due to the intricate food preparation processes which captivates the attention and desires of cordon bleus worldwide.

Behind the high bars of expectations, Japanese food professionals and head chefs are always in the search for just the right methods, the best ingredients, and the excellent culinary tools that will aid in the food preparation processes that are often described as either ‘complicated’ or ‘complex’.
Japanese cuisine has its long, cultivated history of over a century – there are various myths and theories that are introduced to the world in regards to the history of real, ‘authentic’ Japanese food.

Some said sushi came all over from mainland China, while some believed Sashimi and sushi are all authentic, original delicacies that originated here in Japan. Anyhow, Japanese delicacies are loved for the subtle, yet exotic flavors that come from the blends of ingredient combinations. Fine ingredients and superb-quality seasonings come together and make up just the best dishes that will make diners want to come back again for the magical dining experience. As Japanese food and its rising fame did not stop just there, the increase of Omakase restaurants, or also known as Japanese food specialty restaurants, have proved the massive success of Japanese cuisine in various destinations and at the same instance, further introduce Western diners or those unfamiliar with Asian food to the amazing tastes of Japan.

Just behind the delicious sushi pieces and mouth-watering sashimi slices, the mastery of the skills of the knives will, in most parts, determine the final outcome of the dishes. Therefore, to successfully craft delicious Japanese delicacies, it is indeed a must to wisely select the perfect blades that will accurately slice through varying ingredients, fillet fresh fish and poultry, as well as cut through vast kinds of veggies.

With the growing popularity of Japanese knives for professionals, numerous brands have claimed themselves to be the authentic manufacturers of traditional blades forged for professional-use. However, there are only a few brands that could actually hand-craft the authentic blades used for the successful crafting of sushi and elegant sashimi pieces. Among the brands, Fujiwara Kanefusa tops the international charts for its ancient lines of famous swordsmith and craftsmen.

Fujiwara Kanefusa is among the leading Japanese knife brands with a long history – the family have been running the business of forging traditional blades, where the production of Japanese swords lies in Seki city, Japan, since the Muromach era (which was around the 16th century). As the family excels in the forging of professional blades, family has been inheriting the technology of Japanese samurai sword-making which then, has been successfully applied to the hand-crafting of Japanese knives for expertise in the culinary field.

For long, Fujiwara Kanefusa’s kitchen knives have earned high reputations and positive reviews for excellent product quality, blade sharpness, blade durability, high blade efficiency, and most importantly – reasonable prices. Among the top knife selections, Fujiwara Kanefusa Molybdenum Stainless Japanese Chef’s Honesuki (Boning) knife 145mm stands out among the other models, as this knife is made out of the AUS-8 Molybdenum Vanadium stainless steel, a popular Japanese stainless steel that proves rust resistance and sharp cutting edges with surprisingly easy re-sharpening of blades. Furthermore, the black Pakkawood handles with a stainless-steel bolster provides good blade balance and a fine, comfortable grip.

The General Characteristics of Japanese Knives

The General Characteristics of Japanese Knives

Japanese cuisine tops the world charts for its intricate food preparation processes, all the way from selecting fine-quality ingredients like meat, poultry, fresh seafood choices, and vegetables to the skills of the blades. As Japanese delicacies like sushi and sashimi are both loved by gourmets and diners for the perfect combination of mild, subtle flavors with a typically more tangy, exotic tastes, Japanese chefs and culinary experts hold high expectations when it comes to the crafting of delicious, mouth-watering Japanese signature dishes.

Not only Japanese dishes are loved for their magical, divine tastes – the skills required to hand-craft unique and original sashimi dishes are not to be simply learned just in a few days. It is essential for Japanese food professionals and chefs to wisely pick their tools and correctly utilize them for a wide variety of menus and dishes.

Generally, Japanese food requires the skills of the blades – Japanese knives. By Japanese knives, we are talking about premium-quality knives made in Japan, to be used by worldwide Japanese food chefs and experts. Japanese knives, in general, differ in function, shape, sizes, and built-in functions. However, the following are the two main characteristics of Japanese knives and what they’re usually like, despite the brands, designs, and functions.

Extreme Sharpness

Japanese knives are generally ‘razor-sharp’. Its extreme sharpness exceeds that of Western-styled knives and cutleries – this is because most Japanese delicacies require filleting or slicing through fresh seafood and fish. As most dishes require the presence of fine-quality, exotic-flavored, vivid-colored fish like Salmon, Japanese knives do the cutting, slicing, filleting, and chopping work. The blades are designed and made to be extremely sharp, as it aids knife users when it comes to making paper-thin slices of meat or poultry.

Delicate handling of ingredients require the perfect utilization of supreme-quality Japanese knives and traditional techniques to perform various filleting and slicing skills. The results of delicate handling and the use of razor-sharp Japanese knives not only include the appreciation of Japanese food aesthetics, but also the subtle, warm feeling of together-consumed raw fish fillet sliced and prepared in a suitable manner.

Hard Steel Blades

Japanese knives are forged with hard steels, of those might include: high prime carbon, Damascus stainless-steel, silver paper steel, VG-10 stainless steel, and other stainless-steel types. To craft traditional Japanese delicacies like sushi or sashimi, perfect slices of fish and beautifully formed Japanese rice pieces are the important components of the dish. If the knife you are using isn’t forged out of a hard, premium-quality steel, cutting through dense, harder ingredients or bones will be a challenge.

Despite designed to be thin and light in weight, Japanese knives are made with extremely hard blades to enable users the capability to cut through varying materials. High-end, supreme-quality steels like high prime carbon and silver paper steel are often used in forging traditional Japanese knives for professional-use. Therefore, it is seldom to see Japanese knife brands with knife models and series made out of general steel with low Rockwell hardness values. A good Japanese knife should have HRC values of around 60-62 to be strong and durable enough in the crafting of various Japanese delicacies.

When it comes to selecting a great Japanese knife to make your own sushi at home or for professional use, it is best to consider the two main characteristics of Japanese knives to ensure the right knife type is purchased. As both blade sharpness and steel type are two important factors, it is highly recommended for users to choose knife models with extremely sharp edges and hard steels with HRC of over 60.

Knife Recommendations for Left-Handed Users

It is often known that left-handed individuals are often gifted with things right-handed individuals are not born with. Either way, being left-handed can sometimes be a little frustrating, especially when it comes to finding tools and equipment that needs mastering by hand. Many tools and equipment are made to support right-handed users due to the more frequent, higher population of right-handed individuals in the society. However, this should not discourage left-handed users or serve as a strong reason enough to destroy one’s dreams and aspirations to become or do something in particular.

Specifically, when it comes to cooking, finding a left-handed tool can be a challenge. However, in the world of Japanese cuisine, Japanese food head chefs are experts come from various destinations, are born with different talents, and own unique skills. Although they would have to go through numerous levels and stages of practice and challenges, not all are right-handed. Some amazingly talented and devoted Japanese food chefs are left-handed, too.

In Asia, the majority of the population is right-handed, which is the opposite of what’s true in the West. Western chefs can easily find left-handed tools and equipment, so that would not be a problem. However, as earlier mentioned, the majority of Asians are right-handed, so Asian food and the tools required to make them may not be of much variety. In the case of Japanese delicacies and culinary arts requiring intricacy and delicate processes, having both left-handed and right-handed tools is important – as variety opens up opportunities for everyone to showcase their skills, enjoy the bliss of the Japanese culinary traditions, and craft Japanese delicacies with ease.

Cutting, slicing, filleting, and chopping a wide variety of ingredients will not be as easy as it sounds. As a left-handed person, it is essential and highly crucial to have a perfect Japanese knife, a left-handed one, that fits perfectly in the hands – ready to perform all kinds of techniques to master all Japanese traditional dishes and delicacies. Left-handed Japanese knives are forged by many Japanese knife brands, but not all are marked as high-quality ones. The following are some of the recommended left-handed knife brands and series left-handed cooks and knife users may want to take a look at.

Sabun High-Carbon MV Stainless Left-Handed Knife

Made especially for left-handed individuals, this is a professional Japanese knife used by many head chefs and culinary experts throughout Japan. There are left-handed versions of Santoku, Gyuto, Chef’s Petty knife, and Chef’s Slicer (Sujihiki). Forged with IK-8 special stainless steel, Sabun High-Carbon MV Stainless left-handed knives are trusted as they are forged by highly-skilled craftsmen to provide blade efficiency, rust resistance, and blade durability.

Sakai Takayuki Tokujyo Supreme Left-Handed Knife

As one of the most popular Japanese knife brands worldwide, Sakai Takayuki also offers left-handed knife models. However, the Tokujyo Supreme is among the best. This left-handed series comes in a variety of knife types like Deba, Fuguhiki, Usuba, Yanagiba, and Peeling knife. Made to put soft kitchen knife iron on Yasuki’s traditional Nihonko or Hagane – Shiroko / White Paper No.2 steel, it is used for a very long period of time in Japan. Known to provide excellent edge retention and extreme sharpness beneficial for the crafting of Japanese delicacies, Sakai Takayuki’s Tokujyo Supreme left-handed knives are indeed must haves for left-handed knife users looking for their best blade companions.

As these two brands top the list of high-quality Japanese knives often used for sushi and sashimi dishes, it is no doubt that their left-handed knife series would run out of stock quite easily. Handcrafted and forged with a passion to showcase Japan and its cultures through the blade bodies, despite these knives being ‘special’ and ‘unique’, left-handed versions offer opportunities for everyone with a ‘dream’ to explore their skills and talents without borders.

The Japanese Must-Have Cow Blade: Gyuto

The Japanese Must-Have Cow Blade: Gyuto

Japanese cuisine is famous for its variety of unique dishes, the weird yet fiery combination of ingredients that caught our attention with the vivid colors of Salmon, shining Caviars, lush green Nori seaweed, and brown, medium-rare Wagyu beef made our hearts flutter like butterflies lost in the forest. Famed for the intricate processes required to craft culinary arts, Japanese cuisine tops the charts for fine quality dishes, its unique authenticity, and the blends of varying, fresh ingredients together creatively. Japanese chefs are then known for their extraordinary blade skills – the superb, swift chops, perfect slices, and the professional cuts often showcased at open sushi bars and private sushi tables in Omakase restaurants.

The mastery of the blades, the skills and techniques each chef has in their own blood, is what makes sushi and sashimi dishes delicious. Mouth-watering sushi alone would definitely not make people go all the way to luxurious, pricey Omakase restaurants alone. Without the crafting process diners can witness, the beauty of sushi and its delicacy drops down a little. Therefore, the mastery of the blades is highly essential, as it is a major factor which determines the product of success – the savory, stomach-growling hunger-calling sushi.

As knives are important in the crafting of sushi, sashimi, nigiri, and other popular Japanese dishes, Japanese chefs own quite a few knives of their own to craft their ideals. The common knife types include the Santoku, Bunka, Nakiri, Honesuki, Sujihiki, Hankotsu, and Gyuto. Each knife is designed to perform different tasks, but one of the mostly-used knives is no other than the Gyuto knife.

Gyuto, The Cow Blade

If you’re a Japanese food fan, Wagyu beef is definitely a term you must know. And yes, the Japanese word ‘Gyu’ spelled in Gyuto knife is similar to that of Wagyu’s ‘Gyu’. The word ‘Gyuto’ literally means “Cow blade” in Japanese, which also explains why the Gyuto knife is originally used to cut, chop, and slice beef. Often referred to as a Japanese version of the Western chef knife, Gyuto knife is often used for general purposes, be it to cut veggies, slice meat, or chop ingredients of all sorts despite its specific name. Gyuto knife equips an extremely sharp edge, with thinner blade body compared to that of a Western knife. Japanese knives are forged out of extremely high quality materials, where the steel that makes up the blade is mostly rust resistant and durable. The materials that make up the knife handle comes in a variety of forms, be it wood, metal, stone, or synthetic materials, where professionals can choose just their favorite to work with. A Gyuto knife, though, often comes with either wooden or metal handles as their standard.

Among the best Gyuto knife models available, Sakai Takayuki’s 33-Layer VG10 Damascus Hammered Japanese Chef’s Gyuto Knife 210mm is a perfect model for professionals. Its Damascus hammered steel is a 33-layer VG10 upgraded version from the initial 17-layer version, making it extremely durable. Its supreme quality, sharp edge also gives it a water resistance feature along with rust resistance. Sakai Takayuki 33-Layer VG10 Damascus Hammered Japanese Chef’s Gyuto Knife 210mm has excellent edge retention, which also makes it one of the most-loved Gyuto knives. Apart from Sakai Takayuki’s Gyuto, Yu Kurosaki’s R2(SG2) Hammered SHIZUKU WA RS8P Japanese Chef’s Gyuto Knife 210mm with White-Ring Octagonal Handle is yet another perfect Gyuto for both novices and professionals. As a double-edge knife, forged out of the Super Gold 2 micro carbide powder stainless steel, this is definitely a must-have as it is long-lasting, rust resistant, and has unique, original designs. For collectors, this Gyuto knife by Yu Kurosaki not only wows them with pure blade beauty, as the octagonal-shaped Rosewood with White Packer Wood ferrule handle also pushes the bar of satisfaction up.

Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Buffalo Tsuba Engraving Knife

Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Buffalo Tsuba Engraving Knife

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When it comes to Japanese cuisine, it is almost impossible to just eat and enjoy the flavors without getting immersed in the aesthetics Japanese food presents. The colors, the placement of ingredients, the quality components, and everything in Japanese dishes just makes diners from all parts of the world in awe of its perfection in every way.

It is common to see diners making reservations in advance for the best spots at an authentic Japanese restaurants or even the fine dine Omakase restaurants. At these luxurious, yet traditionally-styled Japanese specialty restaurants, diners can enjoy the mouth-watering sets of special prepared dishes and signature menus head chefs have to offer. The aesthetics and visuals of signature dishes offered at Omakase restaurants with bare sushi tables are definitely what diners are looking forward to. The selection of fine ingredients according to seasonal availabilities even makes each dining experience more exciting – which is a way to showcase the traditional Japanese style of crafting delicate culinary pieces. The intricate processes in crafting the world-famous sushi not has only garnered the attention of worldwide professionals in the field of culinary arts, but also won the hearts of food lovers from various places.

However, not only diners are impressed at the flavors, the alluring scents of delicacy Japanese cuisine offers. The extraordinary techniques, the swift movements of the knife, the subtle yet intricate processes push forward the Japanese food trend and made it a phenomenon. As Japanese professional chefs have their hands on the blades, started cooking with passion in their eyes, diners know right away what they can expect dining at authentic Japanese restaurants.

The Mastery of the Blades

Similar to that of a swordsman, every professional chef needs a companion – a blade that goes through the thick and thins. Japanese knives and the selection of good quality ones are highly essential if one is a professional chef. Knowing which kind of knife best suits certain tasks will help in the creation of a balanced culinary art product. Among the best Japanese knife brands professionals and head chefs often choose, is Sakai Takayuki.

Sakai Takayuki forges Japan’s best swords – I mean, blades for culinary purposes. Culinary arts have always been what the city of Sakai is most known for – as it is one of the oldest cities with culinary equipment and tools dating back to 600 years. Craftsmen and blacksmiths working at Sakai Takayuki forge top-quality blades, specifically for the crafting of delicate Japanese cuisine. As mastering the knife skills is highly crucial for Japanese sushi chefs, Sakai Takayuki and its knife models have been widely used and recommended by professionals, which led to massive packs of emerging Sakai Takayuki fans from different parts of the globe.

Although Sakai Takayuki is a top Japanese knife brand with a variety of knives forged for various uses, one of the best knives is no other than ‘Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Buffalo Tsuba Engraving’, a special Kasumi knife with engravings of Japanese traditional patterns. It is among Sakai’s most popular line of traditional knife model which works very well with beginners and even professionals. Engravings of the authentic, traditional Japanese patterns were done delicately by a highly-skilled craftsperson, making the Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Buffalo Tsuba Engraving knife worth having in possession. Varying patterns of legendary creatures, animals, flowers, or traditional objects like carps, dragons, cherry blossoms, and beautiful destinations have been depicted onto these knives in the ‘Buffalo Tsuba Engraving’ line. The knife itself is forged to put soft kitchen knife iron on Yasuki’s Hagane, Shiroko. With extreme sharpness and edge retention, Sakai Takayuki Kasumitogi Buffalo Tsuba Engraving knife tops the charts for its efficiency, quality, and even comfort.

Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M Gyuto Knife with Urushi Lacquered Oak Handle

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Japanese cuisine marks its success and creativity with the ways of the blades. The art in crafting delicate pieces of sushi, yet flavor-rich ingredients combined with soft, mild chewiness of cooked Japanese rice is accompanied with the use of the right blades, for the right techniques. The swift slices, the quick chops, and the skilled endeavor of motions as the fine ingredients are well-prepared to serve diners prove the fact that Japanese chefs are highly motivated to dedicate their lifetime for the sake of divine happiness they could share through the traditional, authentic Japanese dishes they make.

When it comes to the selection of just the right equipment, Japanese professional chefs would demand for the most suitable knife to ensure that clean-cut, slim, thin slices could be made. The traditional techniques required to craft delicacy out of every single Japanese dish would need a perfect blade to perform all tasks neatly and correctly – Yu Kurosaki knives have it all.

Yu Kurosaki is among Japan’s best, new-generation blacksmiths who craft highly efficient blades for specialized uses.

Its top-tier production of quality and original blades for the crafting of Japanese sushi and sashimi has made it among one of the best brands. Young generation blacksmiths working with Yu Kurosaki are skilled, highly passionate, and all-in dedicated to craft the best blades and add new features to varying collections. Specifically for Japanese chefs and professionals in the food industry, Yu Kurosaki is a high-end, top-quality brand that won the hearts of worldwide users. The exquisite materials that make up the knives are selected with passion for the crafting of traditional Japanese cuisine in mind. To complete your knife collection and leap towards another level of accomplishing your goals to master the new techniques of swift slices and cutting motions, Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M knife with Urushi oak handle is a specialized, unique blade for all food warriors.

Every Yu Kurosaki’s knives are extremely sharp

Every single knife is sharpened to assure users of clean-cut slices to avoid crooked, cringe-looking lines that make you sweat tears of despair. Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M knife is made to perfectly slice sashimi pieces, often selected and used by top Japanese chefs. Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M is a Gyuto knife, a multi-purpose knife that performs a variety of tasks. Also a part of the Yu Kurosaki Moon Light – GEKKO series, Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M is skillfully crafted out of HAP40 powdered high-speed steel core made especially by Japan’s most well-known company, HITACHI Metals.

The blades are crafted to be extremely hard, durable, non-abrasive, and has edge-retention compared to any other kinds of materials. The Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M is a semi-stainless steel knife and will require daily maintenance of keeping the blades dry and clean right after use, marking its difference from Chromium-rich basic stainless steel. The handle is the main highlight of this knife – crafted out of half-rounded octagonal-shaped oak wood-dyed Japanese lacquered Urushi, the Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M showcases the beautiful culture and traditions of Japan, which also makes it a great addition to your Japanese knife collection.

The knife itself is double-edged; allowing users who are both left and right-handed to use it efficiently. Swift motions, slim slices, and unique techniques can be used with the Yu Kurosaki HAP40 GEKKO WA OK8M knife with Urushi lacquered oak handle to craft the best sashimi, mouth-watering sashimi and create your very own professional Japanese cuisine from home.

The Best Japanese Sushi Restaurants in America


Seattle, Washington

Not only is Maneki famous for its food, but in its 113-year history, it’s got some crazy stories to tell. Back in the 1930s, one of Maneki’s dishwashers was Takeo Miki, who you may or may not know as a Japanese politician who served as Japan’s Prime Minister from 1974 to 1976. For a restaurant that dates back to 1904, this is a place where great memories have been formed over spectacular sushi. One reason Maneki has remained relevant for over a century is due to the extremely high-quality sushi that it has consistently served and continues to serve today. The sushi is high-quality and affordable, and portions are generous. If you’re a regular here, you’ll recognize the lady behind the bar, someone who’s been pouring drinks for half a century. If you’re in Seattle, make sure you make Maneki one of your stops if you’re looking for great sushi.

Maru Sushi

Honolulu, Hawaii

Michelin-star chef Takeshi Kawasaki is not only the head chef of Maru Sushi in Honolulu, but also its owner. Kawasaki first made a name for himself in the 1980s for running a Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name in Sapporo, Japan. That restaurant is still going strong today but is ran by Kawasaki’s son. Maru Sushi’s Honolulu location was born out of Kawasaki’s desire to live the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle while remaining busy instead of retiring. His decision to open a mirror copy of his original restaurant in Sapporo has been a blessing for local sushi lovers, as Hawaii is known for its high Japanese population and for its abundance of fresh fish. While Maru Sushi Honolulu is not Michelin-starred, Kawasaki has made an effort to keep the location as similar as possible to his location in Japan and has shipped in many essentials in from Japan. Maru only offers two seatings nightly for its omakase, so make sure to book in advance. Here’s hoping the laid-back Hawaii vibes doesn’t spark a full retirement any time soon!


New York, New York

Located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center in New York City, Masa is considered one of the world’s most expensive restaurants in the world, as well as the most expensive restaurant in New York. The restaurant made headlines in 2016 when it raised menu prices to accommodate the elimination of tipping. At $599 a person before tax, alcohol, and extras, a dinner for two would cost over $1300! With that being said, Masa Takayama is one of the world’s finest sushi practitioners, and when you’ve been bestowed with three Michelin-stars, demand is going to be there regardless of the price of the menu.


Portland, Maine

Masa Miyake has been a staple in the Portland sushi scene for more than a decade. During this time, it has established itself as a premier sushi restaurant that could hold its own in any large sushi market in the world. The creations here are different than what you’d normally expect at typical sushi restaurants. For example, a lobster roll is performed with truffle oil and wrapped in spicy mayo in black sesame soy paper, but that just adds to the allure of this restaurant. While it’s an omakase restaurant, there are options for those that don’t want to go full omakase, with a four-course tasting menu available.


Las Vegas, Nevada

In a city known for its over-the-top flashiness and bright flashing lights, Mizumi represents the polar opposite. While the restaurant does have an aura of opulence, you’ll feel like you’re transported to a whole other city once you enter Mizumi. The restaurant is all sleek wood, and the room opens onto a lush Japanese garden and 90-foot waterfall. Don’t worry, behind the style is plenty of substance as well. Mizumi is known for its ocean-freshi sushi and sashimi, and also offers many traditional Japanese specialties as well depending on your appetite. Other dishes include Jodiro chicken, Maine lobster and Alaskan king crab, all of which are fired over an authentic Japanese charcoal grill.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Morimoto, located in Philadelphia, is as famous for its sushi as it is for its Iron Chef owner. Owner Masaharu Morimoto is best known as an Iron Chef on the Japanese TV cooking show Iron Chef, and while he seldom spends time anymore in the kitchen at his Philadelphia restaurant, you’ll find some of the countries freshest sushi available at Morimoto including the standout toro to yellowtail tartare. Omakase is the restaurant’s mainstay, and Morimoto’s chefs will course after course of a combination of mainstay and exotic fishes to test your taste buds.

What is Omakase Part2

In Part 2, we’ll continue talking about the omakase experience. Let’s continue below.

In omakase, every piece of personalized and prepared for you at the perfect temperature. When the food is ready, the chef will place it in front of you. It’s impolite to let the food sit for too long. Even if you’re waiting for other people to be served, always try to eat the food as soon as possible. When you pick up the sushi, don’t be surprised or intimidated if the chef stares at you while you eat. Omakase is a personalized experience, and one of the ways a chef prepares food that you enjoy is by reading your thoughts and facial expressions to adjust if you are displeased with certain types of food. Also, if you try something you don’t like, don’t be afraid to let the chef know.

Traditionally, omakaze usually begins by starting with milder-flavored fish such as hirame or sayori, before moving on to stronger, heavier tasting fish such as otoro. While this is the standard and the norm, there are omakase restaurants out there that like to serve heavier fish such as toro first. You can always research your restaurant prior to going to see how they like to serve omakase.

Omakase can be anywhere from 8 to 20 pieces of sushi. When done, the chef will let you know omakase is coming to an end. It’s rare for dessert to be served in traditional omakase, but some restaurants do serve dessert.

There are a few types of sushi you’ll see when you’re nearing the end of omakase. Some include:

  • Maki, such as tekka maki
  • Temaki hand rolls
  • Tamago (sweet egg)

If you see any of these, it means your meal is nearing the end. After the meal, the chef will thank you and begin to tidy and clean his workspace, always keeping busy. You can now pay your check.

How does Omakase cost?

Omakase is more than just another sushi restaurant. It’s an experience, and it’s the best a chef has to offer. Expect to pay at least $50 for a basic omakase, however they are usually priced at around $100.

Tipping in Omakase restaurants

Unlike in America, if you’re in Japan, tipping is not expected. If you find yourself dining at a Japanese restaurant, you aren’t obligated to leave a tip. Today in America, non-tipping restaurants are becoming more common, especially in high-end sushi restaurants. Tipping will vary by restaurant, but non-tipping restaurants will indicate that tips aren’t required. Omakase is a unique experience which combines great food and exceptional service, therefore highly trained staff with unique skill sets and experience is required. Any tip you leave should reflect this. As with any restaurant or service, courtesy, respect, and appreciation go a long way.

How to prepare for Omakase

While it’s totally fine if you want to just show up blind and enjoy the meal, a lot of people do a bit of research prior their omakase in order to get the most out of the experience. If you decide to do research prior to attending, you’ll want to understand the different types of fish offered to see what you may or may not like. Some examples of fish typically offered include:

  • Fatty fish: hamachi, salmon, toro
  • White fish: hirame
  • Fish eggs: ikura, tobiko
  • Shellfish: uni, mirugai
  • Chewy fish: tako, ika
  • Cooked eel: unagi, anago
  • Picked fish: saba, iwashi

Omakaze restaurants will also offer sets at different price points. Smaller sets come with up to 10 pieces of sushi, and this is considered a light meal. There are also larger meals with up to 20 pieces of sushi, and you should feel very full afterwards even if you come in feeling very hungry. Checking Google or other online review platforms is helpful for knowing what type of sushi, and how much sushi to expect for your particular restaurant.

Omakase is becoming more and more mainstream and is a a heavily use marketing term nowadays. If you want to experience a true omakaze, make sure you find a restaurant where you are able to communicate directly with the chef. If you aren’t talking directly to the chef at the bar, then it’s not a true omakaze!

What is Omakase Part1

Omakase is a Japanese tradition in which you let your chef choose your order. While it may sound like an ancient tradition, omakase is a fairly recent concept, said to originate at sushi restaurants where the term was popularized in the 1990s.

Prior to the 1990s, sushi restaurants were quite pricey and out of the budget of most people. Gourmands who really knew and appreciated the ins and outs of fish enjoyed the artisanship of sushi, and they would eat sushi without drinking much alcohol out of respect for the skill of sushi chefs.

The sudden wealth of many lower-income Japanese due to Japan’s bubble economy brought many newcomers to sushi shops which were once reserved for wealthier clients. These new customers along with their newly found wealth, were unfamiliar with the culture around sushi, but would nevertheless dine at high-end sushi restaurants. What was once inaccessible to them, was now easily available, and while most may not have known much about fish, they knew the food was exquisite and wanted to try different kinds of food and liquor.

As a result, the sushi culture completely changed in response to the new consumer demographic, and many popular Japanese side dishes and sake were added to the menu of many sushi restaurants. Consumers were happy to see familiar menu items at sushi restaurants, but they mainly went to sushi restaurants to try sushi. As they didn’t know much about fish, restaurants saw there was a need for a way where these new customers could order and save themselves the embarrassment of not knowing the names of different fish. To help these customers save face, “omakase” was born, and this allowed people to place an order and leave it to the chef.

Today, omakase is a traditional Japanese dining experience in which the chef prepares a meal tailored to your preferences. It’s considered to be a very intimate experience, and best thought of as a verbal and non-verbal dialogue between the customer and chef. The food prepared is based on price, availability, taste, and seasonality. If this concept is hard to grasp, a comparable concept in Western cuisine would be a tasting menu, where a collection of several dishes is served in small portions as part of a single meal.

The word omakase is short for “omakase shimasu”, which translated to “I trust you”. Omakase requires a customer who is open to trying new experiences and feels comfortable with the chef. They must be vocal about what they like and don’t like, or what they can and cannot eat.

When omakase is mentioned, it most often refers to sushi, however non-sushi items such as tempura, tofu, salad, and soups can also be part of the omakase experience.

What to expect in Omakase

At omakase restaurants, you’ll typically be sat at a sushi counter, directly facing a chef. Depending on the chef, you may be having a full conversation, or it may be quiet. Meanwhile, the chef will be preparing their workspace and start to prepare your appetizer. During this whole experience, you’ll notice the sushi chef never appears idle, and is always working with their hands on something. They focus on their task and are never distracted by conversations going on around them, even if they’re directly engaged in those conversations.

Folded napkins to place on your lap are uncommon at omakase restaurants, but there will be a warm towel for you to wipe your hands. While you may be used to chopsticks when eating sushi, in omakase, you eat the sushi directly with your hands. It’s not a requirement to use your hands, so if you’re more comfortable using chopsticks, then feel free to use them. Omakase is not so much about traditions and rules, but about having more intimate dining experience.

If you have allergies and dislikes, you should bring it up with the chef as soon as possible.

To start, the chef will typically serve an introductory dish before getting into the sushi. In Western restaurants, miso soup is usually served prior to the sushi, however in Japanese culture it’s supposed to be served at the end of the meal. The introductory appetizer dish will be something like, such as tofu or a salad.

That’s it for Part 1 in ‘What is Omakase’. In Part 2, we’ll continue discussing what the rest of the omakase experience is like.

Itamae Tips

An itamae is a cook in a Japanese kitchen or a chef of a large restaurant. The term can be translated literally as “in front of the board,” referring to a cutting board.

While it is not necessary to be Japanese in order to be considered an itamae, non-Japanese people must prove themselves worthy of such a title.

Itamae as sushi chef

In Japan, becoming an itamae of sushi requires years of training and apprenticeship. Typically, after spending approximately five years working with a master itamae, the apprentice is given their first important task related to making sushi: preparation of the sushi rice. The rice is prepared according to the strict instructions of the senior itamae, and each sushi restaurant has its own “secret” recipe of rice, salt, and rice vinegar. Once the senior itamae is satisfied with the consistency of the sushi rice made daily by the apprentice, the apprentice may then be promoted.

This promotion puts the apprentice in a more prominent location, next to the senior itamae. This position is called “wakiita,” which translates to “near the cutting board.” The wakiita’s duties expand to include daily preparation of the fresh ingredients, such as preparing blocks of fish, grating ginger, and slicing scallions. Eventually, the apprentice might begin to prepare sushi for clients with take-away orders. The wakiita also learns the proper ways to interact with and treat the restaurant’s customers by observing the senior itamae.

After additional years of training as a wakiita, the apprentice can be appointed an itamae, fully authorized to stand in front of the cutting board.

The creation of sushi is an art and has colorful stories associated with it. It is a common Japanese legend that the truly great itamae-san should be able to create nigirizushi in which all of the rice grains face the same direction.

In Japan, the itamae is still the heart of the traditional sushi bar and follows many traditions not practiced elsewhere in the world. For example, part of the itamae’s art is calculating the bill. Mistakes in the calculation, unintentional or intentional, may occur.

Itamae training is conducted all over the world, including Japan, USA, and in the UK. The process can take anywhere between 2 years and 20 years.

The terms “Itamae” and “Shokunin” are used as a title for the chef. “Itamae” refers to a skilled sushi chef, while Shokunin means simply someone skilled at a profession.