Omakase, which literally translates from the Japanese into “entrust” (as in, put yourself in the chef’s hands), has been popping up all over.
Jesse Ito recently made the finals in the rising-star-chef category at the James Beard Awards for his fish work at Royal Izakaya in Queen Village, but the granddaddy of the omakase scene in Philly is the experience at Morimoto, the Iron Chef’s restaurant on Chestnut Street in Washington Square West.
For 10 years, Hiroki Fujiyama, 48, wielded the knives behind Morimoto’s counter. When Method Hospitality execs decided to open an omakase restaurant in what was a storage area behind their wildly popular Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown, they put in a call.
Turns out, the Kyoto-raised chef, who came to the United States two decades ago to work in D.C., was up for a new challenge.
Just like his sensei, he now has his name on a restaurant.
Hiroki, whose entrance is through a Brutalist facade at Lee and Master Streets (the other end of the alley from the new Pizzeria Beddia), is a sleek, minimalist spot with only 26 seats: 12 at sushi counter and 14 at tables. Two seatings a night, Tuesday to Sunday. Allow about an hour and 45 minutes.
The offering is not a parade of nigiri, as you may find elsewhere.
For your $135, you start with zensai (seasonal small bites), sashimi, cooked fish and cooked meat, and then move on to 12 nigiri, a handroll, tamago (an omelet), miso soup, and dessert (right now, a strawberry roll cake). The experience is $195 with optional sake pairings, though you can opt to order sake and wines, plus Japanese gin, whiskey, and shoju.
The room, designed by Stokes Architecture, is a zen paradise that used monochromatic colors, regional timber (good ol’ local sourcing!), and reclaimed Southeast Asian teak flooring. Philly artists and craftsmen such as Tim Lewis, Drew Leshko, Workerman Studios, XOXO Plaster, and Conowingo Americas contributed.
Reservations are available through Resy.