Like with breweries and club-themed restaurants, there will be a day when Miamians have reached their limit on omakase sushi, a trend that took a matter of months to go from being entirely new to everywhere. But before that happens, before you swear off sushi handed to you piece by piece, you should hit this latest omakase spot, which is decidedly something different.
The thing is, Sushi by Scratch doesn’t bother trying to be authentically Japanese. It’s not stuffy, like those omakase places that feel as fun as a German art museum, where you’ll whisper to your dining companions out of fear of offending the knife-wielding chefs right in front of you. No, Sushi by Scratch is about experimenting with some of the rarest pieces of fish that can be sourced, in a vibe that’s so fun it feels like entertainment. It’s omakase turned into dinner theater.
It’s omakase turned into dinner theater.
Miami’s Sushi by Scratch became the fifth location of the Michelin-starred concept when it opened in the summer of 2022, temporarily occupying a Coconut Grove Airbnb while it waited for the build-out of a permanent spot around the corner. Here, the night begins in a vestibule that seems like the waiting room of an upscale bordello, the sounds of food prep happening from behind a curtain. The madame is a dude in a suit jacket who will eventually lead everyone into a makeshift dining room that’s shockingly small: 10 seats arranged around a sushi bar absolutely crammed into the space. Three chefs and a bartender elbow each other for space behind it. Here, when they say sushi den, it’s literally an actual den.
There are several options for drink pairings, including flights of rare whiskies or sake. But we’d recommend the house flight, which mixes pre-batched cocktails with whatever else they feel like serving, including a beer brought in a cute little wooden box to finish the night (Drink from the corner, we guess?).
You’re here for the omakase, though, and it will not disappoint, maybe just blow you away, perhaps even become an experience you’ll brag about to your friends for months later. If you go tonight, we can’t tell you what you’ll get, because most of the menu changes regularly. Maybe, hopefully, you’ll have nigiri of super-fresh white fish topped with house-smoked peppers, wild-caught Korean escolar with wasabi and salmon eggs, charred A5 Wagyu, tuna belly with a dab of wasabi grated on shark skin. Oh, and then, holy hell, the eel, cooked in front of you with the scalding-hot drippings from bone marrow heated with a blowtorch. Who does that? Who cooks eel with molten marrow? Hopefully, everyone, someday.
All of this dreamed-up omakase awesomeness could be pretentious and overly serious—as it is at so many other places—but here it’s a laugh. The lead sushi chef explains each dish as you go, shouting sometimes over the diners getting drunk on exquisite sake, offering jokes and stories that end with non-cheesy punchlines, blowtorching his way through an explanation of how to hold the next delicate thing dropped in front of you on a piece of slate. Likely, you’ll talk to the people seated with you; you’ll learn about some rare barrel-aged sake from the bartender, and you’ll inspect the box of uni before it’s wrapped in a handroll.
Before dessert, ringing in at course 17, the chef will ask everyone if they want to add on extras, and likely the entire room will say yes, despite not needing one more thing, because omakase is nothing if not indulgent. You should say yes too because it’ll likely be something special, some new experiment, like al dente seared shrimp brushed with chimichurri.
Later, one by one, you’ll be taken by the bartender—the kindly person who served you drinks all night—out on the veranda to settle up, and you’ll realize that all these rare ingredients and well-orchestrated dinner theater come at a price, like maybe north of $700 for two people. Wow, you might say. Totally worth it, hopefully, you’ll add. It’s not like Sushi by Scratch is your average Tuesday night thing. But it is the most fun, most creative omakase yet.