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Omakase at Masuya, Sydney | Grab Your Fork: A Sydney food blog

Forget degustations. Omakase is the new black for Sydney food obsessives, a thoughtfully curated journey by Japanese chefs based on only the best of what’s in season. The sushi omakase at Masuya is one of Sydney’s lesser known omakase destinations. Just six seats are available each night for the seafood-driven adventure by sushi chef Toshihiko Oe.

Sushi master Toshihiko Oe presenting his omakase at Masuya in Sydney
Sushi master Toshihiko Oe

Chef Oe has been cooking professionally for close to 30 years, a steady presence behind the sushi bar in Masuya’s  basement dining room. While tables may be clustered with chatty patrons, the best seats in the house are the bar stools opposite Chef Oe. Only chilled display cabinet filled with prime seafood separates diners from his gleaming knife, and shy smile.

Hand-written menus for each omakase diner at Masuya in Sydney
Hand-written menus for each omakase diner

Chef Oe’s omakase menu – omakase means “I leave it to you” – changes daily. Diners receive a run sheet of the night’s offerings and, if they’re lucky, an additional copy in Japanese script, each one hand scribed on parchment paper.

Platter of starters at the Masuya omakase in Sydney
Starters: [rear] sea eel kelp roll; herring roe with miso; mushroom shimeji; barramundi miso;
[front] abalone sakamushi; cooked prawn with soy and sugar; John Dory liver; squid shiokara

We kick off with starters, a carefully composed platter of one bite wonders. There’s everything from the gently yielding chew of abalone steamed in sake to the sweet flesh of barramundi cooked in miso.

Squid shiokara during the omakase at Masuya in Sydney
Squid shiokara

It’s a bit of a fun house for the palate as you move around, in whatever order you please. There’s so much to like about the deep intensity of John Dory liver, but maximum flavour – and satisfaction – points go to the squid shiokara, a slippery and sticky tangle of squid strips drenched in its own salted and fermented viscera.

Omakase sushi at Masuya in Sydney
Assorted sashimi: [rear]  Northern bluefin ootoro tuna; cuttlefish; Imperador; mirugai (geoduck); bonito
[middle] torigai (cockle); whiting; tiger prawn; salmon roe; sea urchin
[front] northern blue fin akami tuna; octopus; yellow clam


Assorted sashimi arrives next, an edible artwork showcasing of the range of flavours and textures from the sea. Admire the ruby red purity of akami (red meat) tuna. Relish the gentle pop of salmon roe. Savour the buttery richness of sea urchin.

Ootoro northern bluefin tuna at the Masuya omakase in Sydney
Northern bluefin tuna ootoro

And then there’s the insanely marbled fattiness that is ootoro, the intensely fat-ribboned flesh from the tuna belly. You don’t want to chew this lusciousness. Just place this on your tongue and feel it melt into a puddle.

Grilled northern bluefin tuna at the Masuya omakase in Sydney
Grilled northern bluefin tuna

While we’re languishing over each dish, Chef Oe is working industrially on the next. We move from cold seafood to the aromatic wafts of grilled northern blue fin tuna. The fish is succulent, cooked in a sweet glaze in a magnolia leaf specifically flown over from Japan. Its block shape is mirrored by, yet contrasted against, the humble sweet potato, this one also from Japan, and aged to a staggering level of sweetness.

Swordfish belly nitsuke at the omakase by Masuya in Sydney
Swordfish belly nitsuke

What appears at first to be tofu is actually swordfish belly, a square of melt-in-the-mouth lushness simmered in sake, soy and sugar.

Chef Toshihiko Oe serving wild southern bluefin tuna at his omakase at Masuya in Sydney
Chef Toshihiko serving wild southern bluefin tuna

But my favourite part of omakase is the sushi section. It’s a mesmerising show just watching Chef Oe in action, molding and pressing sushi rice into the perfect shaped pillow. Once the freshly sliced fish is draped across the top, each piece is carefully placed on your sushi plate. There’s barely a minute or two that transpires between the rice being removed from the pot, and the nigiri sushi hitting your tastebuds.

Akami from wild southern bluefin tuna at the Masuya omakase in Sydney
Akami from wild southern bluefin tuna

Tonight it’s all about tuna. We begin with wild southern bluefin tuna, gorging our way through akami (red meat), chutoro (medium fatty) and ootoro (fatty belly) tuna.

Chef Toshihiko Oe slicing wild southern bluefin tuna at his Masuya omakase in Sydney
Slicing wild southern bluefin tuna chutoro 

The southern bluefin tuna has been aged for two weeks, weighing in at about 90 kilograms.

Chef Toshihiko Oe with southern bluefin tuna oottoro at his omakase at Masuya Sydney

Wild southern bluefin ootoro tuna

Chef Toshihiko Oe making cuts into the ootoro tuna at his Sydney omakase at Masuya
Making cuts into the ootoro tuna

Ootoro wild northern bluefin tuna during the omakase at Masuya Sydney
Ootoro wild southern bluefin tuna

Northern bluefin chutoro tuna served at the Masuya omakase in Sydney
Northern bluefin chutoro tuna 

Northern bluefin tuna feels like an escalation of richness in flavour and fattiness.

Ootoro and chutoro from northern bluefin tuna at the Masuya Sydney omakase
Ootoro and chutoro from northern bluefin tuna

The northern bluefin tuna ootoro is particularly impressive with its visibly complex marbling.

Chef Toshihiko Oe serving ootoro northern bluefin tuna at his omakase at Masuya in Sydney
Chef Toshihiko serving ootoro northern bluefin tuna

Ootoro northern bluefin tuna at the Masuya Sydney omakase
Ootoro northern bluefin tuna 

Grilled ootoro northern bluefin tuna at the Masuya Sydney omakase
Ootoro aburi northern bluefin tuna 

Ootoro aburi, grilled over charcoal, is like a buttery tuna steak. Its smoky charred surface only further emphasises its fatty decadence within.

Chef Toshihiko Oe serving uni sea urchin roe sushi during his omakase at Masuya in Sydney
Chef Toshihiko serving uni sea urchin roe sushi

Uni sea urchin roe sushi at the Masuya Sydney omakase
Uni sea urchin roe sushi 

A petal of ultra fresh uni sea urchin roe is so dramatically briny you would swear it had just been harvested. It’s a magical collision of brine and butter, packed into a velvety soft petal of perfection.

Anago sea eel sushi at the Masuya Sydney omakase
Sea eel sushi

Buttery richness gives way to the gentle sweetness of anago sea eel, the more refined cousin of unagi freshwater eel.

Chef Toshihiko Oe with tamagoyaki rolled omelette and tamago grilled omelette at his omakase at Masuya in Sydney
Chef Toshihiko with tamagoyaki rolled omelette and tamago grilled omelette

Most sushi omakase offerings will include a square of tamago grilled omelette. Unlike tamagoyaki – the rolled egg omelette made in a rectangular frypan – tamago has the texture and lightness of a sponge cake, even though it contains no flour. What it does have is whitefish and Japanese mountain yam, or yamaimo.

Egg omelette served at the omakase by Masuya Sydney
Egg omelette

The tamago is a treat worth savouring, its golden crust shielding a cloud-like sponge. It’s the kind of dessert I like to peel apart layer by layer, but hey, I’m weird like that.

Red miso soup served at the omakase by Masuya Sydney
Red miso soup

Red miso soup provides a revitalising end to our savoury courses, an umami-packed broth swimming with neatly trimmed enoki mushrooms and finely sliced chives.

Chef Toshihiko Oe serving dango for dessert during his omakase at Masuya in Sydney
Chef Toshihiko serving dessert

Dango grilled mochi balls served at the omakase by Masuya Sydney
Dango grilled mochi balls topped with red bean paste, matcha powder and sweet soy

Dessert? Of course there is. We end with a trio of dango, sweet Japanese dumplings made from mochiko rice flour. They vary in sweetness, from the slight bitterness of matcha green tea powder, to the glassy glaze of sweet soy, to a smooth and silky puree of anko sweet red bean paste.

The omakase by Chef Oe at Masuya starts at $120. Bookings are essential. 

Entrance to Masuya Japanese seafood restaurant on O'Connell Street in Sydney


Masuya Japanese Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Masuya Japanese Seafood Restaurant
Basement level, 12-14 O’Connell Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9235 2717

Opening hours
Lunch Monday to Friday 12pm-2.30pm
Dinner Mon to Saturday 6pm-10pm (omakase must be booked in advance)

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