Takeout chronicles James Beard edition: Yoshitomo

This week in the Takeout Chronicles we’re taking a look at the takeout and delivery options from the two recent James Beard semifinalist nominated restaurants. Chef Benjamin Maides of Au Courant and Chef David Utterback of Yoshitomo have both introduced new programs since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. I’ve tried both. Here’s my thoughts.

How to order

Yoshitomo has long been available via Grubhub, and we ordered rolls from the restaurant pre-pandemic pretty regularly. Since Yoshitomo closed its dining room, several new chef’s selection dishes have been added to the takeout menu.

Once the kitchen had to close, David Utterback started offering a limited number of “homakase” — his signature chef’s selection of sushi, omakase, delivered to the diners home. We have tried both the traditional takeout menu and the homakase.

Utterback said Thursday the homakase waiting list has grown to more than 70 diners. Those wishing to get a spot on the list can send a message to the restaurant’s Facebook page and include their name and email address. Diners who get a space will be notified. Yoshitomo is in Benson at 6009 Maple St.

What we got

The first night we ordered a selection of rolls and pieces of sushi via Grubhub. The second night, chef David Utterback hand-delivered our “homakase” right to our apartment door.

How long it took

The Grubhub delivery took about an hour all totaled, and the sushi arrived neatly packaged and clearly labeled. The sauce containers are labeled so the at-home diner knows how to put it all together.

When Utterback is running homakase, it takes a bit longer. He’s hand-delivering each package to the diners (a nice touch) but if you can snag a spot, which we did thanks to a friend who gave us an extra and Utterback offering to make us one, it’s absolutely worth it.

Critic’s take

Homakase is, without a doubt, one of the most creative things to come out of our food scene during this pandemic. And really, it’s not that surprising: Utterback is one of those chefs who established himself by surprising Omaha diners.

I’ve done omakase in person several times at Yoshtomo, and this experience can’t replicate some parts of it, like the offhand, often funny conversation with the chef and getting to know six other strangers also sitting at the counter. Taking a piece of sushi out of a chef’s hand and putting it directly in your mouth feels, well, pretty taboo right now.

Dave’s solution, a YouTube video that diners can play at home where he talks about each piece of fish, is a rather brilliant go-between for our new times. And the quality and presentation of the food is just as high-end as it is in person.

I look forward to returning to the counter at Yoshitomo. Until then, I sure am thankful that we can have such a singular sushi experience at the hands of Dave Utterback at home.

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