Chef/Owner Nick Bognar of indo (1641 Tower Grove Ave., Botanical Heights, St. Louis) announced the launch of his omakase menu at the new modern Asisan restaurant. At indo, the James Beard semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year combines his talents in Japanese, Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine. Now, in addition to a-la-carte lunch and dinner menus, guests can experience a multi-course omakase menu for $150 at the restaurant's 6-seat chef’s counter Tuesdays through Thursdays (additional seating may be added at a later date). For an additional $60, guests may also opt for wine pairings, curated by sommelier Zac Adcox, previously of Reed’s American Table. Tickets for indo’s omakase can be purchased here on Tock.
“Omakase” is a Japanese phrase that means “to entrust." Each dining experience is different due to the variety of seasonal ingredients and the availability premium fish imported from Japan. The menu showcases multiple preparations of nigiri as well as tastings from his a la carte dinner menu. “We want to pay respect to the traditions of omakase that have been established for centuries, but also use this as our outlet for creative expression,” says Bognar.
At the beginning of the experience, guests are welcomed to the chef’s counter where a folded menu provides a guide to the tasting menu, along with its beverage pairings. A recent omakase dinner began with a warm cup of Dobin Mushi, a traditional seafood broth made with lobster and matsutake mushroom from a Japanese teapot. Next, an oyster with a delicate spicy Thai chile glaze was paired with Sayuri Nigori Sake from Hakatsuru Brewery. The experience has ebbs and flows from deliciate to decadent with dishes like the rich Chawan Mushi, a Japanese egg custard with smoked dashi and ikura paired with a 2017 Domaine du Viking “Sec Tendre” Vouvray.
Guests are then guided through an elaborate 17+ course tasting menu of nigiri, rice and Thai dishes and more, with unique, perfectly paired beverages. Although very special, Bognar and Adcox remove all pretense of tasting menus with informative and heartfelt descriptions and stories to accompany every bite and tasting. The pace through multiple courses of nigiri is energetic without feeling hurried with selections of Madai; Kinmedi, a fattier orange alfonsino; Hirame, a flounder with yakumi and lemon; Kanpachi, aged for seven days and topped with a salted goji berry glaze and paired with a NV Chiarli Lambrusco; a5 Wagyu beef; and more.
Intermixed within the nigiri courses are highlights from the indo menu and other special dishes such as the: Isaan Hamachi, a signature of Bognar’s from his previous omakase menus of yellowtail sashimi with Thai kosho (his take on yuzu kosho, a fermented citrus-chili paste), candied garlic, coconut, naam plam fish sauce, shallots and chili oil; Caviar Rice, served with a hefty serving of American caviar with crispy seasoned rice, daikon and sesame oil; Lamb Laarb, Bognar’s take on a dish that he grew up eating from his mother’s Northern Thailand; and more. For dessert, guests are served a playful lemongrass ice cream with crushed Fruity Pebbles as well as a donut hole with orange zest and peach jam paired with the tropical 2017 Royal Tokaji “Late Harvest”.
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