The laneway connecting Orwell Street and Darlinghurst Road in Potts Point has become a dining mecca in recent times, with the rise of popular eateries such as Room 10 and Pina. Now Llankelly Place has welcomed Kisuke, a six-seater omakase restaurant. Step inside, and you’ll be transported into the warm ambience of Tokyo, where owner-chef Yusuke Morita and his wife, Izumi, in her beautiful kimono, greet you politely.
In Australia, Morita tells Broadsheet, “the term ‘omakase’ seems to have taken a life of its own”.
Omakase is derived from the Japanese term “makaseru” – a difficult-to-translate expression roughly meaning to entrust something to someone else. So omakase-style dining means your menu is left completely to the chef.
“We occasionally do receive requests from customers unfamiliar with omakase. Although small changes may be possible when booking, changing something into vegetarian, for example, I have to kindly turn away,” says Morita. “I apologise in advance, but that’s what omakase is.”
Born in Shikoku, Japan, Morita entered the culinary world soon after graduating high school. Trained in traditional washoku (Japanese cuisine) he soon ventured abroad to gain more experience on the international stage, notably in Amsterdam (Hotel Okura) and London (Tatsuso). Morita arrived in Australia in 1994 to work for Suntory Restaurant in the CBD, climbing the ranks until he became head chef in 1998, a title he held until the diner’s closure in 2000. For the next decade, Morita’s fans – who were especially devoted to his sushi – followed him wherever he worked.
In 2012, Morita opened Kisuke, an à la carte restaurant in Willoughby, where for the next eight years his following steadily grew. Although there was much sadness from his regular customers when the restaurant closed last year, for Morita it was the beginning of a new phase in his career.
Opening a small restaurant, with Izumi by his side, has always been on his mind.
“You really cannot have a good conversation with customers in a busy restaurant, when you have orders constantly coming in,” he says. Now Morita can focus on the six customers sitting directly opposite him, showcasing his culinary skills and creativity while chatting with guests.
Give yourself about 2.5 hours for your meal. An entrée is followed by wanmono (a soup), mukozuke (seasonal sashimi), mushimono (a steamed dish) and yakimono (something grilled). The meal then moves into Morita’s signature sushi offering, an 11-piece delight. A portion of Inaniwa udon (a thin noodle from Japan’s Akita region) will then reset your palate for dessert. There’s a selection of Japanese sake and whisky to accompany your journey, with particular focus on sake from Morita’s hometown.
The restaurant has been open since early March, but there’s still approximately a 40-day wait for a seat, according to Morita.
Although Morita may occasionally use ingredients such as foie gras or truffles, his omakase is distinctly traditional. “This is very important to me,” he says.
Tue to Sat 6pm–10.45pm