I’m a novice chef at home. When I’m in food critic mode, however, I put myself in the hands of the professionals, trusting them to craft what they believe is the best menu. This is why I’m a big fan of Yume Sushi’s omakase experience.
Translated in English to “I shall leave it up to you,” omakase is a common Japanese practice in restaurants where patrons allow chefs to have complete creative freedom. The Yume team treated us to a seven-course dinner omakase style, and my friend Rachel and I arrived hungry and excited to check a new dining experience off my bucket list.
We were introduced to Peter, the executive chef, and seated with a direct view of him at work. With 20 years of experience to his name, the Thailand native has a firm grasp of flavors and promised we would be taken care of all evening. Mild, our host, suggested a lychee libation and a gin-based cocktail as drinks to begin our experience.
Rachel absolutely loved her lychee drink, as did I with my cucumber gin. Floral notes were poignant on our tastebuds with each sip, and Mild explained the difference between Japanese gin and what others may commonly know as English gin. Japanese gin is often mixed with cherry blossoms and other floral ingredients to create a delicate taste that meshes oh-so-well with liquor and other assortments.
We had a beautiful first course: Japanese sushi with an extravagant topping of 24K gold and tiny balls of red wine that resembled fish eggs at first glance. Presentation is everything to Peter, and watching how delicately he assembles each ingredient is quite mesmerizing. Underneath our fish was a combination of wasabi truffle oil, and lining the bowls were sprinkles of course Himalayan sea salt and teaspoon servings of wasabi. There’s a lot to piece together in order to get the “perfect” first bite, and at times, I’m not sure I mastered that. Still, the fish was fresh and the sauce was perfectly seasoned.
Our second course arrived in an equally small dish; firm angel hair pasta topped with salmon row, Japanese foie gras and those deceiving red wine balls again. The noodles were nice and firm, and texture-wise felt like a roller coaster of creamy, salty, and crunchy surprises. I regretted finishing the noodles before the row, as it would have been nice to sample both ingredients together.
Up next came Spanish mackerel with – you guessed it – the same toppings as the aforementioned plates. The fish completely fell apart in your mouth, and there were no complaints from Rachel or myself. Tucked underneath was palm truffle sauce. Peter said the base is made of sake. The plate felt more transitional for me, and I was ready to move forward with dish four.
As we observed the well-coordinated effort to make each plate symmetrical, we sipped on another round of drinks: the “green warrior” and “blue sky.” Rachel and I briefly laughed at how colorful both our cocktails were, but we were immediately impressed with the presentation and taste. Sake, vodka, and midori were combined with yuzu, another exotic citrus that should be on your radar. It can be just as sweet as it is sour. The “blue sky” was less sweet in taste but nonetheless delicious. The texture resembled a slushy and with each sip the depth of flavor between the Roku gin and the mixer was even more elevated, likely because of the six Japanese botanicals infused in the spirit.
A big fan of scallops, I was happy to see Peter preparing six little disks of them. Chef seared them in butter mixed with sake, truffle oil and miso. The drizzle was a similar mixture sprinkled with chili powder. This was easily my favorite course, and I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I’m 100% biased in that assessment. The scallops were firm, but malleable and perfectly portioned.
Shaved wagyu beef (which arrived from Japan that same morning) arrived next on a bed of white rice surrounded by what appeared to be melted chocolate at first glance. To my delight, it was a combination of black pepper, balsamic vinegar, Japanese soy sauce and truffle oil. We sensed truffle oil was a growing theme here and while we thoroughly enjoyed the opulence, we craved some more diversity in the flavor profiles. Nonetheless, the one bite had us longing for several more.
Perhaps the star of the meal was the final course before dessert, a roundup of different cuts of Bluefin tuna from Greece. What’s astonishing is how Peter was able (with seasoning, of course) to manipulate the textures of each cut. Some were fleshier than others and thin strips of fat through two of the four pieces dissolved in your mouth after the first chew. Served on the side was Japanese soy sauce that Peter informed us was FIFTY-TWO years old!
Dessert was excellent – just remarkable! Green tea and honey-ginger gelato was perched atop a bed of crunchy phyllo dough, fried to perfection and drizzled with honey. It was simple, yet thoughtful and on brand for a restaurant that exudes elegance with a casual demeanor.
The Bitches say: five Champagne flutes
Chef Peter and his team are careful in presentation and boast a diverse, refined spread of some of Japan’s best cuisine. Liberal drizzles of truffle oil aside, this is one of the best omakase experiences in Washington, D.C.
Yume Sushi offers omakase-style dining Sunday through Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance, and can be made by calling the restaurant.