Sabi Omakase An Authentic Tokyo Style Sushi-ya in Stavanger

Press invitation

The restaurant scene in Stavanger is very exciting these days. The addition of Sabi Omakase, a high-end sushi restaurant with only nine seats, justifies a visit to the city alone. From my experience, Sabi Omakase is as close to an authentic Tokyo sushi-ya (sushi shop) as you can possibly get outside of Japan. I have never eaten sushi in Japan. However, I recently dined at JIN in Paris together with LuxEat. She’s been to some of the best sushi restaurants in Tokyo and told me that JIN was almost identical in style. In turn, I found Sabi Omakase to be very close to the performance at JIN.

A tiny house clad with wooden panels in the middle of Pedersgata in Stavanger. Who would have guessed this door is hiding such a gem of a restaurant?
A tiny house clad with wooden panels in the middle of Pedersgata in Stavanger. Who would have guessed this door is hiding such a gem of a restaurant?

Roger Asakil Joya is the head chef at Sabi Omakase. He is originally from the Philippines but came to Norway as an 18-year-old. Roger is trained and certified as a sushi chef in Japan. In August last year, he finished 4th in the Sushi World Cup. That makes him the best non-Japanese sushi chef in the world! Obviously, that may be an exaggeration as I am sure a lot of the old Japanese veterans don’t even compete. Still, it’s a huge merit for a Europe based chef.

Roger Asakil Joya is originally from the Philippines
Roger Asakil Joya is originally from the Philippines
Roger started by grating a wasabi root
Roger started by grating a wasabi root

Roger is co-owner of Sabi Sushi and has developed what he calls a Norwegian Edo Style Sushi. Edo is the old name of Tokyo, and Edomae refers to a style that originates from the fast food businesses of that city. In other words: Roger follows the 200-year-old Tokyo sushi traditions but uses fresh, Norwegian seafood, caught in our wonderful cold waters. The show began with Roger showcasing the fresh catch. I had no idea just how impressive the performance we had ahead of us would be.

The chef showcased the fresh seafood he was going to serve us
The chef showcased the fresh seafood he was going to serve us
Suimono with tofu and cockle. Suimono is a light, clear Japanese soup typically served as an appetizer.
Suimono with tofu and cockle. Suimono is a light, clear Japanese soup typically served as an appetizer.
Sparkling sake from Nøgne Ø. I love this bottle, and the flavor was better than the previous sparkling sake I tasted at JIN in Paris
Sparkling sake from Nøgne Ø. I love this bottle, and the flavor was better than the previous sparkling sake I tasted at JIN in Paris

Returning to my visit at JIN, briefly, where one of the most memorable parts of that meal was simply watching the chef work. He was a Japanese chef, who spoke neither French nor English. LuxEat, together with Hungary’s biggest food writer, Andras Jokuti, and me were all taking pictures. The chef at JIN didn’t like that much. Back to Sabi Omakase, Roger, on the other hand, did not seem to mind at all. Still, he was as focused as only a Japanese sushi chef can be. It was like watching a well-choreographed dance take place in front of us. If I wanted to photograph a specific movement he did, I could just focus my camera at that point in the air, and soon Roger would repeat the action at the exact same spot for me to capture. He was fast, though! My sharpest picture is seen below.

The remarkable technique when Roger packs the rice is mesmerizing to watch
The remarkable technique when Roger packs the rice is mesmerizing to watch
Cod from the Northern Sea with shio kombu. Kombu is a seaweed and shio means it has been boiled in soy sauce and cut into strips
Cod from the Northern Sea with shio kombu. Kombu is a seaweed and shio means it has been boiled in soy sauce and cut into strips
Squid with Himalaya salt and lime. Squid can be quite chewy, but this piece was exceptionally soft to bite
Squid with Himalaya salt and lime. Squid can be quite chewy, but this piece was exceptionally soft to bite
Scallops from Frøya with soya, chili and yuzu gel. Gotto love those perfect Norwegian scallops with a silk soft, gel-like consistency.
Scallops from Frøya with soya, chili and yuzu gel. Gotto love those perfect Norwegian scallops with a silk soft, gel-like consistency.

Sabi Omakase is the fine dining version and the most authentic sushi restaurant by Sabi Sushi. Two days ago I wrote about their Dinner Club concept. Once again Njål had invited the winemakers Nic Weis and Kai Schätzel, and they presented a few of their finest wines for us to go with Roger’s creations. We also enjoyed an amazing sparkling sake from Nøgne Ø. The first to be produced in Europe! Luckily it’s available at the wine monopoly. In addition, we had several different glasses of Champagne, which paired well with the corresponding dishes that Roger served.

Nic Weis was present once more to introduce his wines
Nic Weis was present once more to introduce his wines
Nic Weis. Wiltinger Feinherb Alte Reben 2014
Nic Weis. Wiltinger Feinherb Alte Reben 2014

Omakase means “I trust you,” or more commonly “trust the chef”. There is no weekly menu here. What is served depends on which seasonal produce the chef got hold of that day, and what he wants to present to you as a guest. A total of seventeen dishes were served to us this night. My friend and I was joined by Njål and his beautiful wife Triin, the two winemakers and a sushi restaurant owner from Fyn in Denmark. Sabi Omakase has a maximum capacity of nine guests on regular days.

A unique mood around the counter, which seats only nine guests
A unique mood around the counter, which seats only nine guests
Next up: langoustine!
Next up: langoustine!
Nic Weis. Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Spätlese 2014
Nic Weis. Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Spätlese 2014
Langoustine with miso paste and physalis
Langoustine with miso paste and physalis

With nine limited seats, a restaurant is very vulnerable to cancellations. Imagine, Roger prepares the meal for those specific nine guests every day. If two or more does not show up, that’s a huge ingredient cost wasted. Even worse, suppose that a booking of nine is canceled, which actually happened a few days prior to our visit. No wonder Njål is considering options to secure a booking for the restaurant. This is not uncommon for similar exclusive concepts like Fäviken Magasinet, where you actually have to pay in advance. Many US restaurants are even selling tickets to their show, rather than using a regular booking system.

Oysters coming up, and that means...
Oysters coming up, and that means…
...Champagne time! Bruno Paillard Assemblage 2004
…Champagne time! Bruno Paillard Assemblage 2004
Oysters from Lysefjorden with lumpfish roe, lemon infused trout roe, soya, yuzu, bonito flakes and gold!
Oysters from Lysefjorden with lumpfish roe, lemon infused trout roe, soya, yuzu, bonito flakes and gold!
I love gooold...
I love gooold…

I’ll gladly admit I had to read up on the history of sushi and look up names and ingredients. I did not feel competent enough about Japanese food culture before my visit, and I still don’t. I realize I’ll have to get myself to Tokyo sooner rather than later. A good start, though, was to read about the visit to Sabi Omakase by LondonEater. He also has a bunch of great restaurant tips in London and Tokyo!

Sea urchins still alive
Sea urchins still alive
Roger in deep concentration
Roger in deep concentration
Carefully scooping out the genitals. Yes, that's the part you eat.
Carefully scooping out the genitals. Yes, that’s the part you eat.

Through LuxEat I found an even more extensive introduction to the sushi in Japan. Just check this guide by Kayoubi Desu! What a remarkable restaurant culture that exists in Japan. I am so happy that we can get a feel of it in Stavanger now. The meal will rid you with 2500 NOK for the food and wine altogether. That is great value for money considering the heavenly flavors, the wonderful aromas and the extraordinary show you get.

Meinklang Grüner Veltliner 2014
Meinklang Grüner Veltliner 2014
Truffle time!
Truffle time!
Sea urchins from Lysefjorden with Himalaya salt, truffle and soya
Sea urchins from Lysefjorden with Himalaya salt, truffle and soya
Amazing wood panels covered the walls and ceiling at Sabi Omakase
Amazing wood panels covered the walls and ceiling at Sabi Omakase
Burning the skin of the mountain trout
Burning the skin of the mountain trout
Tweezers precision for every dish
Tweezers precision for every dish
Mountain trout from Tyssedal with shiso, ginger, dark soya and calamansi citrus
Mountain trout from Tyssedal with shiso, ginger, dark soya and calamansi citrus
Roger cuts the fish with a proper Japanese sushi knife. The size of the slices surprised me
Roger cuts the fish with a proper Japanese sushi knife. The size of the slices surprised me
Tuna "toro" with soy sauce. Toro is the fatty part of the tuna, and considered the most valued ingredient in sushi.
Tuna “toro” with soy sauce. Toro is the fatty part of the tuna, and considered the most valued ingredient in sushi.
Nic Weis. Ockfener Bockstein Auslese 2010
Nic Weis. Ockfener Bockstein Auslese 2010
Roger sliced fine cuts into the salmon, to make it softer to bite
Roger sliced fine cuts into the salmon, to make it softer to bite
Salmon "toro" with soy sauce. The fatty belly part of the fish.
Salmon “toro” with soy sauce. The fatty belly part of the fish.
Kai Schätzel enjoyed the food at Sabi Omakase as much as me I think
Kai Schätzel enjoyed the food at Sabi Omakase as much as me I think
Tataki is Japanese and means that the fish is just slightly seared around the edges, leaving the insider still raw
Tataki is Japanese and means that the fish is just slightly seared around the edges, leaving the insider still raw
Tuna tataki with coriander
Tuna tataki with coriander
Kai Schätzel. Pettenthal Spätlese Magnum
Kai Schätzel. Pettenthal Spätlese Magnum
Tamago. Egg omelette roll. Often considered the true test of a sushi chef
Tamago. Egg omelette roll. Often considered the true test of a sushi chef
Miso with foie gras.
Miso with foie gras.
The miso soup consisted of white and brown miso, green peas, Japanaese plum, sansho and daiko.
The miso soup consisted of white and brown miso, green peas, Japanaese plum, sansho and daiko.
Jacques Sellose V.O. Champagne
Jacques Sellose V.O. Champagne
The eel is grilled and basted in unagi sauce in several stages. Roger also used sansho for flavoring - Japanese green pepper corns.
The eel is grilled and basted in unagi sauce in several stages. Roger also used sansho for flavoring – Japanese green pepper corns.
The eel is glazed with unagi sauce before serving. A Japanese tsume sauce, or reduction, of soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and eel broth.
The eel is glazed with unagi sauce before serving. A Japanese tsume sauce, or reduction, of soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and eel broth.
Eel unagi. The eel was from Denmark, and as such the least local ingredient.
Eel unagi. The eel was from Denmark, and as such the least local ingredient.
Domaine de Suremain, Mercurey 2011
Domaine de Suremain, Mercurey 2011
One of the best servings of the night. Norwegian whaling is based on a balanced ecosystem, and only the minke whales are allowed to be hunted.
One of the best servings of the night. Norwegian whaling is based on a balanced ecosystem, and only the minke whales are allowed to be hunted.
Whale with daikon, leek, chives, ginger and soy sauce
Whale with daikon, leek, chives, ginger and soy sauce
Lightly smoked reindeer, grilled on Japanese grill, served with seasalt
Lightly smoked reindeer, grilled on Japanese grill, served with seasalt
Morinokura, Shiso Umeshu. A sake based plum wine flavored with red basil
Morinokura, Shiso Umeshu. A sake based plum wine flavored with red basil
Black sesame ice cream with melon, frozen and fresh raspberries, organic tofu and tapioca marinated in Norwegian and Japanese syrup.
Black sesame ice cream with melon, frozen and fresh raspberries, organic tofu and tapioca marinated in Norwegian and Japanese syrup.
A final surprise and thank you note
A final surprise and thank you note
Nori, ginger seaweed snaps
Nori, ginger seaweed snaps
The petit four. A white chocolate & passion fruit truffle
The petit four. A white chocolate & passion fruit truffle
Njål joined us by the end of the meal
Njål joined us by the end of the meal
Closing time. Good nigth Sabi Omakase
Closing time. Good nigth, Sabi Omakase

What is your best sushi experience outside of Japan?

Disclaimer

This was a press invitation from Sabi Sushi. As always, the content reflects my sincere opinion and is my personal recommendation.

Anders Husa

I am Anders Husa – a foodie living in Oslo. I eat at the best restaurants in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and the major food destinations in the world. I share my foodie stories here.

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