The latest restaurant experience to be translated to the at-home consumer is omakase. From the team behind Soosh in Los Angeles comes Home-A-Kase, a new at-home omakase experience headed by Chef Brian Ogawa.
Omakase roughly translates to “I’ll leave it up to you” in Japanese and has become popular as a chef’s choice menu where the diner has no decisions to make. For delivery, this is more of a challenge.
But Ogawa — formerly of Nobu Malibu, Matsuhisa Mykonos and Matsuhisa St. Moritz — has found a way to deliver this bespoke experience to the home-bound consumer. By working with customers ahead to determine preferences, food allergies and more, he crafts a multi-course menu at the customer’s homes.
Customers answer a detailed questionnaire before Ogawa plans his menu, including questions about their favorite restaurants, favorite dishes, fish preferences, rolls versus maki and such, to help him design the plan for the experience.
But it’s not just putting people’s favorite fish on a plate.
“I try to enlighten [the food] a little bit to give them something that they've never had with their favorite fish, so it's almost an interactive omakase experience,” said Ogawa. “I wouldn't call it cheating, just a little bit more insight on what kind of flavors that people like.”
Ogawa and a small team, who follow all COVID-safety protocols, then bring the pre-planned ingredients to customers’ homes for an intimate catering event — for $400 per person.
The dinner is somewhat of a surprise for the customers. But Ogawa is also dealing with unknowns working in unfamiliar kitchens.
Ogawa said he enjoys the element of having to be on his toes doing at-home catering with Home-A-Kase more than a restaurant in many cases for one reason: the experience.
“It's not just about the food, it's the whole experience of having us over. We have our own playlist, we have props and I think it's mostly our vibe that we bring to that house,” said Ogawa.
To maintain strict California safety measures during COVID, Ogawa and the team are continuously tested before entering people’s homes. The gatherings are limited to no more than two or three people.
Since its inception in October, Home-A-Kase has been experienced by 30 customers and Ogawa sees no sense in stopping once restaurant dining resumes fully in California.
“Before [COVID] I think caterings were looked at in a different way as far as there has to be a special occasion or there has to be X amount of people to bring on a catering job. I think for us, since we can make it as intimate as two people, it's just a fun outlet and another fun way to enjoy food in the comfort of your own home,” said Ogawa.