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Shota Omakase: A Sushi Odyssey in Williamsburg

Shota Omakase: A Sushi Odyssey in Williamsburg

Just off the G train, between industrial buildings and a Manhattan skyline, lies Williamsburg’s first premium omakase experience at Shota Omakase, offering authentic Japanese cuisine served with a side of artistry. While Brooklyn may not come to mind when you think of omakase sushi, Owner and Chef, Cheng Lin, is redefining New York City norms everywhere.

At Shota, you can find two evening seatings almost every night. There’s only one menu option, which—before wine and sake pairings —costs $195 per person. And if you’re looking for the menu on Shota’s website, you won’t find it. You’re at the mercy of Chef Lin’s setlist for the evening, and we assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

The Chef

Chef Lin, a Chinese native, found himself learning from the helms of Japanese kitchens since 1997. He went on to hone his sushi skills at some of New York City’s most prestigious establishments, including Blue Ribbon and ITO Tribeca. When Chef Lin took the leap to start his own restaurant, he drew inspiration from the manga series “Shota No Sushi.” The protagonist’s profound love for perfecting the art of sushi in the story resonated deeply with his own dedication, and Shota was born. One thing is for sure, Lin’s passion for the craft in every minute detail of the restaurant.

The Ambiance

The atmosphere is modest and made inviting right from the moment you step inside. With easy-going banter filling the room, Chef Lin’s camaraderie with his team adds to the good energy permeating the space. Infused with subtle Japanese accents, the sleek and minimalist décor creates an environment free from distractions, allowing diners to fully immerse themselves in the full omakase experience. The focal point, a wraparound white oak omakase bar with grey cushioned seating, ties the space together. Seats at the counter face Chef Lin, who delivers a personalized evening. Diners aren’t just spectators; they’re active participants in the culinary show from start to finish.

“The conversation and the relationships built, that’s what omakase is about; engaging with my guests is what I love most about this. It’s about being more than just a chef”

The Process

The omakase at Shota is a carefully choreographed affair, with each course thoughtfully chosen and prepared. Leaning into the Edomae style of preparation, Chef Lin’s focus on marinating, curing, and aging, is made clear not only with his choice of fish but in all his ingredients.

Sourced across Japan and in many of New York’s local markets, Chef Lin takes a refreshing approach to ingredient transparency. While many chefs might keep vendors a secret, you’ll often find Lin sharing tidbits about his ingredients, and endearing stories about his Japanese suppliers. Over the years, he’s built relationships with a select list of premium quality vendors.

Shota Omakase Sushi NYC

Of course, the pillar of any sushi experience lies in the quality of the rice, and Chef Lin ensures only the best by sourcing special Shari-sushi rice from Central Japan. These grains are 1.5 times larger than regular sushi rice, offering more texture, a slight sweetness, and a stickiness that enhances their ability to absorb ponzu vinegar. The ponzu itself is a labor of love, made with eight ingredients and fermented for three months. The Aka-zu, or red sushi vinegar, essential to Edomae sushi, is typically aged for 3-5 years, infusing the sushi rice with a rich umami flavor. Like a well-kept secret, the fish you sample at Shota is of the highest quality, with many varieties cured for up to 10 days. He spends 90% of his time preparing, and only 5-10% serving or with his guests, he tells us. All of these elements further attest to Chef Lin’s attention to detail in his craft.

The Omakase

The evening begins with four otsumami courses or small bites. It might range from tender slices of sea bream crowned with edible blooms; Shota’s Dashi soup brimming with mushrooms; or baby tuna soaked in a Ponzu that’s been meticulously aged and fermented for three months.

Sushi Shota Omakase NYC

The next portion of the meal features Chef Lin presenting 13 different pieces of nigiri, each one a testament to his skills honed over the years. The menu evolves with the seasons, but you can expect to sample fatty tunas, king mackerel, and scallops. He delicately paints a layer of soy sauce on each nigiri before placing it in your fingers. And Lin’s commitment to perfection is evident as he changes the bowl of rice every three pieces of nigiri to ensure the vinegar balance and temperature are just right. As the evening draws to a close, diners are treated to high-grade uni from Hokkaido and a bite of tamago, a sweet egg omelet served over sushi rice.

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While 18 courses might sound daunting at first, time flies by thanks to the incredibly attentive staff, who ensure every movement is swift and seamless. Plates are whisked away and any drips of soy sauce are cleaned up before you notice them.

The wine and sake pairings, curated by sommelier Johnny Walker, are also exciting. Johnny and Chef Lin’s culinary partnership spans years, and it shows—they finish each other’s proverbial sushi and sake sentences. Each sip complements even the most distinct flavors in the sushi.

Shot Omakase Wine Pairing

Whether you’re a seasoned food enthusiast or someone looking to explore top-tier Japanese cuisine without breaking the bank, Shota Omakase offers a dinner that’s quickly becoming a favorite in NYC.

Shota Omakase
Website
50 South 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday at 6pm and 8:30pm

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