Japanese food is perfect for experiential dining, as there’s an art and tradition behind Japanese cooking that goes back centuries and deserves to be shared with people from all walks of life. One of the most interactive Japanese dining experiences is an omakase menu, which puts the power of food in the chef’s hands. The customer must place their trust in the chef, who serves a range of dishes that are personal to them.
I recently had my first omakase experience at Auradaze, a small Japanese deli/restaurant combination in Ambleside in the Lake District. The definition of a hidden gem, Auradaze was a truly unforgettable experience that brought together humble beginnings, fine dining, great stories and good company under one roof.
From the UK to Japan and back again
From the moment I arrived at Auradaze I felt at home, thanks to the hospitality of co-owners Darren and Laura, who have a story that’s as interesting as their restaurant. Darren grew up in Bolton, near Manchester and has been all over the world, honing his cooking craft. After years of cooking in Japan and serving dishes in Bora Bora, Darren returned to the UK to create an authentic Japanese dining experience.
Darren also reconnected with Laura, who he’d known for many years and they reunited over their love of food and hospitality. This was explained over many courses of delicious food, with Darren and Laura regularly chatting with guests and making everyone feel like a part of the atmosphere. There was an air of romance and intimacy to it all, which translated into the food.
Some of the best Japanese food in the UK
Darren might’ve been happy to chat about anything but in the kitchen he was all business and passion. The courses came steadily, each more creative than the last. Some of the highlights included a collection of beautifully presented sashimi with wasabi and ginger, seaweed and noodle salad topped with fish, giant prawns served in a spicy dipping sauce and umeboshi plums dripping in tarty goodness.
The best way I can describe the full experience is one giant orgasm in the mouth. Each plate was better than the last, a dynamic mixture of salty, sweet, crunchy, sour and savoury that worked together in perfect harmony. Definitely some of the best Japanese food I’ve ever had and a place that can be called umami heaven.
The omakase experience included eight courses in total and comes up to £50 per person, a great deal for food that reaches such a high-quality. The restaurant also offers special upgrades of imported Kobe beef for an extra £20 per person or Alaskan black cod in miso and yuzu citrus sauce for £14.95 per person.
A hidden gem that’s well worth the trip to Ambleside
If you’re planning a trip to the Lake District then you’ll want to put Auradaze on your list for places to eat.
The décor, service and food are phenomenal, but it’s the attitude of Darren and Laura that will really make you appreciate the experience. Their motto is ‘real food by real people for real people’ and that comes across as soon as you step inside.
Be sure to check out the Auradaze menu and services for more information.
Address: 2 Millans Park, Ambleside, LA22 9AF