Japanese cuisine can be subtle to the point of invisibility. – ELV
For once, perhaps a few pictures will (truly) be worth a thousand words.
So, in the interest of brevity (for once), we will post a list of the pictures of seven courses, along with the menu descriptions of said courses, before summarizing our impressions of our meal with a few words at the bottom of this article.
We do this not to damn Omae Japanese Cuisine with faint praise, but rather to let you see the food as it would be delivered to your table, before cluttering your minds with our critic’s take on the experience:
Sakizuke — Ikura (Salmon Roe) and Mushroom with Grated Daikon, Ponzu Sauce:
Zensai — Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp) Tartar, Celeriac Puree, and Tomato Sorbet:
Mushimono — Steamed Scallop, Mozzarella and Grated Turnip with Golden Brown Sauce:
Sashimi — Three varieties of Sashimi from Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan:
Sumiyaki — Charcoal Grilled overnight aged Seasonal White Fish with Truffle Soy Sauce:
Teppan — Grilled Wagyu Steak with Roasted Onion and Wasabi Mashed Potato, or Grilled Kobe Beef Steak ($80 supplement as seen here):
That’s seven courses for $100/per (or $180) if you opt for four, meltingly tender bites of ultra-premium Japanese beef.
Are the ingredients pristine? Absolutely. Are the preparations exquisite? No doubt. But they’re also very, very Japanese, meaning: subtle (and by subtle we mean very subtle) contrasts of textures and flavors reveal themselves with every bite. Some of these sensations will make sense to you and some won’t. (We’re still trying to figure out what was going on with the melted cheese on a steamed scallop on top of a grated turnip napped with some indecipherable-to-the-point-of-invisibility “golden brown sauce.”
But if you’re the sort who enjoys dissecting dishes, and love debating what a chef is trying to communicate with his concoctions, and prefer quality over quantity (and the deceptively simple over the uncouth and obvious), then you should make a beeline here while reservations in the teeny tiny (12 seat) space are still available.
And if the chef were to ask us (which he hasn’t and probably won’t), we would advise him not to raise his prices to $150/per at the end of the month. In our humble opinion, a Benjamin a head is probably the limit of what the traffic will bear at this location.
Bottom line: This is a thinking man’s restaurant, and not for someone looking to fill up on a big plate of grub. You will be by turns transfixed and baffled by some of the courses here, but Takeshi Omae is obviously a major talent, with an obsessive attention to detail that you rarely find in anything but the best Japanese and French restaurants. Much like Mitsuo Endo before him, he has raised the game for all cooks in this town just by opening his doors.
You will leave hungry but you will also leave fascinated.
ELV joined three major Yelpers (Matt, Tricia and Norm) and Michael Uzmann for his meal here last night. His portion of the bill came to $175, without booze, and as much as he liked the A-5, in the future he would opt out of the supplement as the wagyu steak was just as tasty if not as tender.
3650 South Decatur Blvd. #26