New York is having a love affair with Omakase-style restaurants. Omakase, the elevated and seasonal Japanese dining experience, takes the pressure off from having to order for yourself. While this might seem like a modern and fun way to dine, to the Japanese, it is a traditional way of eating. The menus often varies from season to season, and in some places from day to day. Dining Omakase-style means you eat at the counter with the chef deciding on the menu and making the dishes right in front of you. The often intimate experience allows you to decompress and simply watch the chef at work. We had our very own Omakase lunch at a still under the radar restaurant, Kintsugi Omakase in Soho.

From the moment we stepped in, Kintsugi Omakase encompassed the name “kintsugi”—the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold to embrace imperfection. This spot removed much of the rigidity found in many omakase sushi services, and instead created a relaxed atmosphere that focuses on care and passion. With only 10 seats at the large counter the service feels more like a ceremony. The excitement of what we each got did not stop until the very end.

Their newly-appointed (formerly of New York Sushi Ko) Executive Chef, Victor Chen, ceremoniously and quietly presented a 12-course lunch menu. Kintsugi Omakase‘s dinner menu has three tiers of premium omakase, which include seasonal appetizers and sushi. The Grand Street Classic, a 10-course meal for $95, The Soho Experience, a 13-course experience for $155 and The Kintsugi Omakase, a 16-course service for $195. We experienced their recently launched “Lunch Rush Omakase”, a 12-course one-hour experience for $60, which is available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

This season Chef Victor is featuring delicious spring additions to his omakase, which are Hotaru Ika (firefly squid), Sekogani (female snow crab), Buri (yellowtail) and Samegarei (flounder). Additionally, The Kintsugi Uni Tasting is the perfect addition to any of the three premium experiences utilizing a weekly auction-grade Top-10 ranking uni directly auctioned and airfreight from Toyosu Market in Japan. Our lunch experience started off with a traditional potato salad with arctic shrimp and the Murasaki cocktail, which is a Japanese Extra Dry Sake, Violet Syrup, Yuzu Extract. The cocktail was a refreshing way to start the meal. Our experience ended with miso soup and a tasty Negri Toro handroll. In between we savored every bite, ready for more of their special and quality fish, like arctic char and Iwashe (sardine). The sardine was certainly a surprise but it ended up being among the favorites.

The highlight of our lunch was getting to taste the ultra-seasonal firefly squid. These deep sea creatures only come up once a year on the shores of Japan and become the stars of the sushi world. When they come up they emit a blue light, creating a beautiful constellation-like scene. In between courses you cleanse your palette with pickled ginger. As most traditional omakase is eaten with your hands, the restaurant also provides a hot towel and in between courses you wipe your fingers on a moist tissue. The entire meal was finished with warm tea. What makes Omakase style experiences a pleasant way to dine is the simple focus on the food and cleanliness of the process. Not one crumb was detected.

This is the perfect lunch for a special occasion or if you simply want to enjoy something new. During our visit we spotted a family of four treating their teenager to a birthday lunch, and a New Yorker having a pleasant lunch for one. Come here with someone who is adventurous and loves fish. The good news is that the experience at Kintsugi Omakase is much more affordable when compared to other Omakase restaurants. Kintsugi Omakaseis a must-try!

Kintsugi Omakase 28 Grand Street (betw 6th Ave/Thompson St), Soho