Chef Reiji Yoshizawa turns to his Filipino Japanese roots and international culinary experience to put his own unique stamp on El Secreto's speakeasy omakase experience.
“Everything has an element of surprise,” says Omakase host, Jane Kim. “From the stunning onyx and gold-leaf space hidden within the hotel to the 16-course menu that’s updated seasonally. “Upon arriving at the six-seat black-and-brass exclusive Art Deco bar, guests are warmly greeted by chef Yoshizawa himself, who presides over the entire culinary spectacle with grace and ease.
Before the tasting menu kicks off, expect guidance in choosing your beverage pairings for the evening. “We have an amazing Japanese sake program with super rare collectibles like bottles of Kikiusui Kuramitsu Junmai and Noguchi Noahiko 01 Junmai that are typically hard to get your hands on,” said Faena sommelier Josh Kasumovic. “We’ve seen people purchasing sake and sharing it with the other guests, which speaks to the intimacy of this space and experience.
“The epicurean odyssey begins with a delightful Sakizuke amuse-bouche prepared with jicama carpaccio and Australian winter truffles dressed with a shallot-truffle vinaigrette and shaved bottarga top. “Jicama is a staple ingredient where I come from in the Philippines,” says Yoshizawa. “I like how its brightness balances the extreme flavor of the truffles. “Ninety percent of the menu’s fish is flown in fresh from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market several times weekly, while domestic fish is sourced from the Gulf of Maine including the Mere Point Oysters and bluefin tuna. “Each fish has a different flavor and texture profile,” Yoshizawa explains, “and I love to play around with salty and acidic combinations to enhance the flavor of each course.
“For the crudo oyster dish done two ways, Yoshizawa riffs on a classic mignonette with umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) to blend salty and sour, smoked trout roe from Mississippi for texture, and Japanese shansho peppercorn for a hint of floral. The second oyster pairs buttermilk dashi and butterfly pea wildflower petals with blueberry and yuzu marmalade and sprinkles of crispy prosciutto. The main event of the meal is a parade of nigiri courses that underscore Yoshizawa’s culinary range and creativity.
Standouts include the crowd favorite Kinmedai (golden eye snapper) garnished with dehydrated Baeri caviar and kumquat, A5 Motobo Wagyu with truffle miso, and a Hokkaido uni and jamón Ibérico hand roll. “This is not a traditional Omakase,” notes Yoshizawa.
“I like breaking the rules a little bit by adding unconventional ingredients to every bite."
“As for the other 11 dishes? It’s called El Secreto (the secret) for a reason. You’ll have to come and see for yourself.