It’s 6pm on a Sunday evening and eight guests are seated at the bar waiting for their dinner to arrive in an exclusive Japanese fine-dining pop-up restaurant. In this intimate setting, the noise on Magill road fades out as they quietly anticipate their forthcoming gastronomic experience having relinquished control of their meal to Chef Yohei Hombo.
These diners have left their meal completely up to Chef Yohei with only one expectation – a once-in-a-lifetime sushi experience that will temporarily transport them to Tokyo and quell their wanderlust. As the meal unfolds, Yohei personally guides them through the 15 courses he has meticulously choreographed with flavours designed to build upon each other as the meal progresses.
Perhaps the ultimate luxury in Japanese cuisine, this experience is universally known as omakase.
Omakase translates roughly to ‘I’ll leave it up to you’. There’s an innate level of trust taking place here where guests have paid the high price tag and are willing to leave themselves at the mercy of Chef Yohei. At Ibuki Sushi, Yohei personally selects the freshest ocean catch available in SA and flies the remainder in from Japan, New Zealand, Tasmania and the eastern coasts of Australia.
“It’s a true privilege to have absolute creative freedom and deeply rewarding to have diners who place their trust in me,” says Hombo.
“I am inspired and highly influenced by what’s in season and find true joy in bringing together Japanese culinary techniques and locally sourced ingredients”.
Hombo’s traditional Itamae uniform includes a tie under his jacket and apron.
“As an Itamae, the tie we wear serves as a symbol of our status and professionalism, paying homage to centuries of tradition. It is also an expression of my gratitude and respect towards our customers, acknowledging their trust and to thank them for their time,” explains Chef Yohei. An omakase dinner typically spans at least two hours.
During the extended dinner, Chef Yohei quietly prepares one piece of nigiri at a time in front of the diners. Each piece of sushi is artfully hand made with precision and artistry with Yohei delicately moulding each piece by hand and brushing just the right amount of soy sauce to enhance the flavour and texture of the fish. He then announces the name, origin of the fish and answers any questions.
As diners bite into the sushi and savour the burst of flavours of the warm rice and fish, he times it so that the next piece is prepared not too early and not too late, but at a pace where the meal isn’t rushed and diners are not left waiting. There is an unspoken dialogue of skill and respect that happens throughout, creating an immersive experience that is truly perfected like only a highly trained Japanese chef can.
If you’re intrigued and want to experience a truly authentic Japanese omakase with Adelaide’s only Japanese trained sushi master, please make a reservation for Ibuki Sushi’s next pop up omakase sushi dinner.
Be forewarned though that Chef Yohei’s omakase is a highly addictive experience.