Tanabe, a small town on the Japanese coast was my base for one night. I was preparing for a three day hike on the Kumano Kodo trail and would be traveling by bus the next morning to the trailhead. It was a memorable evening – my first true omakase.
As it was a Sunday, many restaurants in town were closed, but the host of my ryokan (local inn) advised me to try Kanteki (Tripadvisor, Local travel). It took me a while to find it, as it was hidden in a part of town with small streets. The streets were pretty much empty and I was struggling to find the restaurant up until the moment I heard noise coming from a small alley. That noise turned out to be … Kanteki.
The owner and the staff hardly spoke any English. I had learned about the Japanese habit of omakase (why I named this blog omakase) a few weeks before. The Japanese habit of omakase (お任せ) when you’re ordering at a restaurant pretty much means, “I’ll leave it up to you”, inviting the chef to be surprising and innovative in the selection of dishes.
So the best option for me was to order omakase … let the chef choose. The chef was visibly delighted and made some of the most amazing things I ate during my Japan trip – amazing local fish cookies, hyper fresh fish, some amazing sushi. At some point it turned out the guy sitting next to me at the bar was the fisherman who caught the fish I was eating (at least, that is what I got from the hand gestures). I got free shots of local plum liquor, … it was a memorable evening. My first ever true omakase experience.