Islander Sake Brewery is a Hidden Omakase Gem

Family picture at Islander Sake Brewery
First course at Islander Sake Brewery
Second course
Third course
Main course at Islander Sake Brewery
Fifth course
Sixth course
Last course at Islander Sake Brewery

For Father’s Day, Megan and I took our dad to an omakase dinner at Islander Sake Brewery. For those unfamiliar, omakase refers to “chef’s choice” and is usually featured in sushi restaurants. Because the customer’s orders are up to the chef, most omakase sushi dinners can price at a couple hundred dollars. Neither Megan nor I had been to an omakase before, so she suggested we go to Islander Sake Brewery for a more affordable prix fixe option at $75 per person. The seven-course dinner cooked directly in full view of us by brewer, owner, and chef Chiaki Takahashi is served alongside seven different sakes, most of which are made in house. Each dish contains sake in some form and is enhanced by the drinkable sake pairing. We originally thought the omakase dinner at Islander Sake Brewery had five courses and we were surprised and delighted as more dishes were placed in front of us! The first course was a smoked salmon with olive oil, dill, capers, and lime next to perfectly cooked washugyu on a spicy miso sake sauce and topped with slices of jalapeno peppers. I definitely didn’t think I would like the rare texture of the washugyu but it tasted perfectly spicy and salty and the smoked salmon was soft and silky! We all thought there was no way anything could be as delicious as this first course. Next up was a spring mix salad with Aloha tofu and marinated miso koji rice served with (not pictured, sorry!) miso sake konnyaku. Although I had to tediously remove every piece of cilantro (the devil’s lettuce) from the salad, I loved eating the tofu with miso koji rice! The third course was the one I was most afraid of because I didn’t want to seem rude about not eating raw fish in front of the servers and chef. Chef Takahashi gave us slices of ahi and tachiuo or “hairtail fish” with tamago, cooked nori, shiso, and thinly sliced carrot and daikon. I tried the ahi, which tasted okay to me, but the tachiuo was amazing and I ate both my pieces and dad’s! I don’t know what made this fish any better than the others, but it was the perfect taste and texture. The star of the show was the fifth course’s salmon marinated for three days in miso, mirin, and sake kasu with lemon, onions, and shiitake mushrooms. This salmon was 100% the best food I’ve ever eaten and I know I say that about almost everything I eat, but it’s true in this case! The salmon was incredibly moist and flaky and the edges crisped up with smoky bits of baked marinade. I wanted to eat 5 pounds of the salmon because it was so juicy and tender and all of the vegetables were cooked to perfection. I still think about this dish in my dreams and every second I’m awake and I’d like to eat it every day if possible!!! We thought we’d be given dessert as our next dish since we were all under the impression the omakase dinner was five courses, so this chicken thigh with asparagus and cucumbers and a sake yuzu sauce was a wonderful gift. Like most Japanese proteins, the chicken wasn’t too salty and the bright yuzu topping made the cucumbers pop. The presents kept coming as we tried for our sixth course Chef Takahashi’s version of a “Japanese ratatouille” with ground chicken, tomato, onion, and zucchini in a sake broth. I wasn’t feeling that full before this course came out because the dishes were all fairly small (aside from the salmon) and we didn’t have rice or other simple carbs to fill us up. After this fantastic dish though, I was fully satisfied and ready for dessert! Nothing could have prepared me for the magical mini parfait featured above, which looked so simple and refreshing but was one of the most incredible sweets ever! The final dish in our omakase dinner at Islander Sake Brewery was a light strawberry compote on sake-infused silky tofu. The strawberries floated in almost a delicate watery fruit jelly and Chef Takahashi described the tofu as sake mixed with soy milk. I was wary that the tofu would taste odd because I’m actually not a sake fan (Megan got quickly tipsy subtly drinking all of my sake in each course!), but the pairing of tofu with strawberry was phenomenal. I finished my dad’s dessert because I did not have enough with just mine! Islander Sake Brewery changes up their omakase menu fairly frequently it seems and they only have two small tables and a counter for folks to reserve, so I would highly highly recommend attending a dinner there for any special occasion. I know we’ll definitely be back at some point and hopefully they’ll serve up their salmon once again!

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