Pacific Rim creations
July 1, 2022
Omakase Experience by Prime Fish delivers Tokyo-style sushi in an elaborate 16-course tasting menu
by Michael J. Solender | photographs by Kenty Chung
Charlotte Chef Robin Anthony is obsessed with the culinary bounty of the sea. His newly opened Cotswold restaurant, Omakase Experience by Prime Fish, showcases his preferred way of bringing the wondrous tastes of cold Asia-Pacific waters to diners through the intricacies of Japanese cuisine. Here, Anthony’s central focus on Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi reveals a balanced interpretation with a minimalist touch, one tiny bite at a time.
Area sushi consiglieres know Anthony from his work with Charlotte sushi maven Birdie Yang of Yama Asian Fusion, his run as head chef at Ballantyne’s Red Sake, and his own popular Prime Fish, the sushi and sake bar that opened in 2021. There, he introduced an omakase experience, where diners trust the chef to prepare and present a special menu featuring Pacific Rim delicacies largely unfamiliar to western palates.
The special tasting dinners were so popular, Anthony shifted the entire concept to Cotswold, where he’ll host two intimate seatings nightly. Six guests per seating will enjoy a 16-course menu entirely selected and prepared by Anthony. Special sake pairings are also available.
Here’s a taste of what those lucky enough to land a seat will find.
Anthony and his team have created a jewel-case bagatelle, transforming the space of a former juice bar at Providence Plaza. A single strawberry-blonde counter is surrounded by wood paneling, all crafted from the same giant North Carolina red oak tree. Sturdy, comfortable bar stools provide the perfect perch to oversee the chef’s artful preparations.
Omakase’s vibe is understated and balanced feng shui. Beige speckled limestone “bricks’” line the open kitchen, lending an elegant glow and a sense of airiness. Hand-painted Japanese porcelain and ceramics provide elegant platforms for Anthony’s creations. Low-volume mellow jazz and soft wood walls add to the intimacy of the space.
Anthony procures more than 90% of his fish through the fabled Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo. Overnight orders arrive twice weekly. Omakase’s selections celebrate highly regarded catch such as Japanese Buri (wild yellowtail), Hon Sakura Masu (Cherry trout), Shako (mantis shrimp with roe), Bafun Uni (sea urchin from Hokkaido) and Ma Saba (mackerel).
Mastering the art of omakase involves a true understanding of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Anthony begins his progression with lighter, white-fleshed fish in vibrant sashimi preparations and moves carefully toward fattier, more richly flavored selections often served as traditional Nigiri (hand-pressed rice pad topped with a single slice of raw fish).
Among the highlights on our visit were the Hamachi Tsukuri, an elegant fan of Japanese amberjack sashimi flecked with pickled garlic and chili. The slightly briny fish with freshly grated wasabi excites the palate for what’s in store. Japanese black cod came next, nestled in a pod of vinegared, short-grain sushi rice infused with spiny sea urchin.
Full-bodied bites such as Oh Toro (tuna belly) shined, served atop ribbons of pickled daikon (Japanese radish) or on expertly molded rice pads accented with custom-blended togarashi (Japanese seasoning).
Many of the evening’s gems were fully cooked preparations, including a meaty slice of Pacific octopus (Ni Tako Ashi) braised in dashi, sake and soy sauce, and a Miyazaki wagyu tenderloin, seared rare and garnished with Spanish black truffle.
No detail is too small for Anthony in showcasing his creations. The temperature, texture and complementary garnishes, from salty-sweet shrimp roe to edible Japanese flower blossoms, pique the palate, leaving diners in anticipation of their next bite.
At Omakase, dinner is the show. This is a special-occasion restaurant: At $300 before drinks and gratuity, most patrons will come with the intention of a truly special evening out. Pacing here is unhurried, and Anthony takes time to explain each plate, from ingredients to techniques. Two hours goes by in a flash, and the intimate nature of the seating makes for a convivial exchange among guests and the chef.
This is a dining experience for those who want to take their enjoyment of Japanese cuisine to a heightened level. Apparently, there’s a pent-up demand for that: According to Anthony, at press time, Omakase had a waitlist for seating at several hundred.
They’ll be delighted to know, once they get their seat at the bar, they won’t be disappointed. SP
Omakase Experience by Prime Fish is open Wed.-Sat. and is located at 2907 Providence Rd., Ste. 101. omakaseclt.com