Delage Brings Affordable Omakase Dining to Old Oakland

For all its many culinary appeals, including several great sushi spots, Oakland hasn’t had a standout Japanese restaurant that combines raw and cooked food in an omakase, or chef’s choice, format. Delage, which officially opened on June 7, brings this concept to Swan’s Market in Old Oakland.

The nightly menu on display outside Delage.
The nightly menu on display outside Delage. (Kim Westerman)

Chikara Ono, of B-Dama next door, has teamed up with Masa Sasaki, the sushi chef who earned a Michelin star at Maruya in San Francisco, to offer a prix fixe menu for $65. With only about 20 seats, eight of them at the sushi bar, the restaurant is sure to be a tough reservation to score.

Chef Masa Sasaki behind the sushi bar at Delage.
Chef Masa Sasaki behind the sushi bar at Delage. (Kim Westerman)
The cozy dining room at Delage.
The cozy dining room at Delage. (Kim Westerman)

Our evening began with a beautiful salad of Maglia Rosa tomatoes with perfectly ripe, halved Bing cherries and baby arugula and an earthy-tart ume-shiso pesto, which set the stage for the elegant courses to follow.

Tomato and cherry salad.
Tomato and cherry salad. (Kim Westerman)

Next, the server arrives with a flat, square sheet of Himalayan salt on a wooden platter, and on that block rest two glistening pieces of raw salmon, each with a little cilantro flower, just picked from the plant on the sushi bar, placed on top. It’s partner on the plate is medium-rare Miyazaki beef, Wagyu from Miyachiku co-op.

Surf and turf: raw salmon and seared Wagyu beef.
Surf and turf: raw salmon and seared Wagyu beef. (Kim Westerman)

As the first of two rounds of sushi arrives, we realize we’re going to need to pace ourselves. Four pieces of nigiri, each cut to be one bite, are presented next: Bluefin tuna, Japanese yellowtail, sea bream and butterfish, offered without adornment. Sasaki has placed the recommended amount of soy sauce directly on the fish before sending it out.

Four pieces of nigiri, the first of two rounds.
Four pieces of nigiri, the first of two rounds. (Kim Westerman)

The bottle of nama sake we ordered, Tedorigawa Kinka, is a bargain at $60 and pairs beautifully with the light, but rich, food.

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The fourth course was a delightful soup, surprising in its depth of intensity, and certainly one of our favorite dishes of the night. Furofuki daikon, minced chicken, enoki mushrooms and carrots with ankake sauce (a starchy soy-based concoction) are floating compositions in the rich broth, conjuring the best of Japanese comfort food.

Vegetable and minced-chicken soup.
Vegetable and minced-chicken soup. (Kim Westerman)

The strangest dish of the night, and a big success, was the smoked baby corn with togarishi aioli, fried quail egg, cotija cheese, and somewhat of a ponytail of sweet baby corn silk, which, as the server kindly instructed us, is edible. I was surprised at its crunchiness and simultaneous satiny texture that agreed with the dish both in terms of flavor and mouthfeel.

Baby corn salad with corn silk.
Baby corn salad with corn silk. (Kim Westerman)

The meatiest dish of the evening was seared Liberty duck, with the perfect amount of fat rounding the edges, served with maitake mushrooms, moromi miso and a sweetly tart plum compote.

Seared duck with mushrooms and plum compote.
Seared duck with mushrooms and plum compote. (Kim Westerman)

The second round of sushi included tovio, a lightly seared version of sea bream, and a bowl of creamy cubes of ankimo (monkfish liver).

Though dessert was not an instinct at this point, the homemade strawberry ice cream was irresistible.

Homemade strawberry ice cream for dessert.
Homemade strawberry ice cream for dessert.

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Delage
536 9th St. [Map]
Oakland, CA 94607
Ph: (510) 823-2050
Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30-9:30pm
Facebook: Delage
Price Range: $$$ (Omakase menu only, $65)

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