Omakase is the Japanese tradition of letting a chef choose your order. The word means “I will leave it to you.” It’s a fine tradition that gives the chef creative freedom and the customer a memorable dining experience.

Any good chef is a creative individual. Creativity isn’t always good business. Customers want to see the old predicable favorites on the menu.

Omakase lets the chef flex their culinary talents. It’s generally considered a friendly gesture that may earn you excellent service.

There are a few things to keep in mind when ordering omakase:

1. It doesn’t work everywhere

Omakase works best at restaurants with daily fresh ingredients such as sushiya. Any restaurant that offers fresh fish or in season vegetables are likely to be a good omakase bet.

If you get the sense that a restaurant exercises creativity in its menu, your omakase order will likely be well received.
Omakase doesn’t work well at chain restaurants, large restaurants or restaurants with limited ingredients such as a noodle shop.
2. Sit near the chef

Small restaurants with counter seats and a viewable kitchen are best. The culture of omakase evolved at these small intimate restaurants.

3. Language

Omakase involves greater social interaction with the chef. If you’re able to spit out an obscure Japanese word like omakase it will be expect that you have more words in your inventory.

4. Read the air

Omakase typically earns you more attention from the chef. For example, the chef may explain each dish to you.

Be friendly but avoid jumping into personal questions. Ask before taking photos of people. Taking photos of the food is normally okay.
It’s important to read the air. Many restaurant owners are happy to discuss personal things with customers, others will feel uncomfortable.
5. Omakase is for the brave and adventurous.
If you have dietary restrictions that are likely to come up, omakase isn’t a good idea. You can’t put down any restrictions. You can’t ask what you’ll get.
It’s only polite to eat the dishes you’re offered. If you’re a picky eater, avoid omakase.
6. Price

At the end of the meal the restaurant will present you with a non-itemized bill. This is nothing more than a small stub of paper with a price. In many cases, your drinks will also not be itemized.

It’s not considered rule to ask for an itemized bill. It’s understood that a non-itemized bill can’t be expensed. Your food portion will show as a single charge.
Omakase is considered a request for a wonderful meal. If you’re looking to save money omakase isn’t the way to go. Nevertheless, it usually represents an excellent value.