Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese. The term is often used to refer as a type of Japanese food dining experience, where the chef presents a series of plates from the lightest fare to the heaviest, richest dishes. It comprises sashimi, nigiri, hot dishes, and dessert. The number of courses and ingredients varies depending on the price.
I had my very first omakase experience in Taipei this year! I was so excited when I found out about this newly opened omakase, and booked it while I was still in Montreal since the space is limited (only 12 seats!). Ten Masa is located close to Zhong xiao dun hua station (忠孝敦化站). For some reason (which I have no idea, to be honest), most of the omakase restaurants are really low-profile in terms of their exterior. As you enter the restaurant, you’ll see a open square shaped low bar table, which you’ll be able to see every moves of the chef while they are preparing the dishes. There are already three amuse-bouches plated upon seated. The bitter melon stood out the most for me. I totally dislike bitter melon, but this pickled bitter melon wasn’t bitter at all! It’s pickled with plums, which made it a bit sweet and sour. Appetizer: Needle mushrooms with spinach with light soy sauce. The needle mushrooms weren’t hard to chew, and the spinach still crunchy. Sashimi: Started off with two slices of light and refreshing sashimi. It was thinly sliced and it was so fresh that you can try the first piece without wasabi or soy sauce, and it doesn’t have the unpleasant fishy taste. Grilled scallop sashimi: The scallop was tender but firm after grilled on top of charcoal. It was surprisingly sweet. Fried spanish mackerel: I had a “wow” face after I put it in my mouth. It was so tender and light that it just spread out in the mouth. It was cooked to perfection as most of the spanish mackerels I had were all really hard (probably overcooked). Sashimi: These are two types of sashimi. The fats are evenly distributed, but nothing special. Steamed egg topped with chamomile: It was smooth but firm, and tender (no air bubbles!). Rich in bonito flavor. Tuna belly sashimi: Another “wow” dish! These two pieces of sashimi were thicker than the previous ones. Though it’s the belly part, it wasn’t too fatty that will gross you out. The fats and the flesh were evenly distributed, and it was fresh on its own. It also tastes sweeter in combination with the shallots. Moving on to nigiri….. White shrimp nigiri: The shrimp has been finely cut-up, which gives it a smooth, sticky and tender texture. Mackerel nigiri: Brushed with a bit of soy sauce. The cuts on the sashimi is to cut the tendons (if any), which makes it more tender and smooth. Japanese sandfish nigiri: I had a “heaven” face for this one! It was extremely soft and tender. The ratio of the rice and the sashimi was right that they blended right into each other as I chew. Amaebi nigiri: This was a bit ordinary. The shrimp was definitely fresh, sweet, and not mushy. Otoro nigiri: Another “starred-eye” dish! It looks like raw beef from distance, but it’s actually the belly part of tuna. The proportion of fats is higher, which melts right in the mouth…. drooling Nigiri: Sorry I forgot the name for this one. However, it was refreshing as it is garnished with mashed cucumber and ginger. Uni (sea urchin) nigiri: Of course can’t step out of a Japanese omakase without having the uni! It was fresh. It doesn’t have the bleach taste, which a lot of them do if they are not fresh. Firyosu: This is a very special dish. It’s a mixture of tofu, daikon, lappa, fungi, black sesame, Chinese yam, ginkgo, and lily root. This was invented to imitate the texture of meatballs as the poor people could not afford to buy meats. Steamed Chinese cabbage with chicken: This was a light dish. The cabbage was sweet, the chicken was tender, and the fried pieces on top gave the crunchiness. Tamagoyaki: This was light a sponge cake. It’s made out of shrimp and eggs, so it tastes like shrimp corn chips! It was light and fluffy. Dessert: Matcha & Sesame tofu pudding: I loved Japanese desserts because they are not overly sweetened like most of the Western desserts. The bitterness from the matcha balanced out the sweetness from the tofu pudding. One of the unique features of this omakase restaurant is the fire place in the center of the restaurant. Instead of using torch, the grills are done at this fire stove. They use longan woods, which will lightly grilled the fish. This give the nutty and fruity flavors to the fish, instead of the gas taste when torch is used.
Overall, this omakase experience just raised the bar higher for my Japanese food tasting. Omakase style allows the chef to perform artistically and showcase their skills and talents. As the customer, you’ll be able to expose and surprise yourself with the dishes that the chef presents!
Moreoever, the serves at Ten Masa was impeccable. There was an anecdote (which I won’t explain here), and the way the chef solved the problem made us happy and left with satisfaction.
Conclusion? Money worth spent, will start to search for more omakase… ;)
No.102, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Songshan Dist., Taipei City 105, Taiwan (5 minutes walk from Zhongxiao dun hua station)
Tel: +886 (2)8771-8575 [Reservation definitely recommended!]
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