Omakase is a Japanese term that translates to “respectfully leaving another to decide what is best” or “I leave it up to you.” Big cities like San Francisco and New York are booming with omakase restaurants—but Reno is not.
However, Duc Du—known to locals as the owner of Hinoki Sushi and Haru—has decided that Reno is ready to experience this unique and intimate dining experience. Hinoki O offers an upscale Japanese menu of 12 to 18 different courses thoughtfully curated by the chef.
Since omakase depends heavily on the chef’s style and the restaurant, every experience will be unique. At Hinoki O, guests sit at the bar and interact with Du as he creates each intricate, flavorful, specialized dish.
“We are excited to offer a unique, interactive experience for those looking to step outside of their comfort zone and jump into a world of special Japanese cuisine,” Du said.
Duc (pronounced Duke) Du was born and raised in Germany and has been cooking for his family since he was 7 years old. He wanted to become a chef, but everybody told him that chefs work long hours and do not get paid well, so he decided to leave Germany and choose a university to study computer science. He had family in both Sacramento and Reno, so Duc narrowed his choices to those areas and visited potential universities. In 2005, Duc decided that Reno was the best choice for him, and he made the move to attend the University of Nevada, Reno.
While he was attending UNR, one of his friends decided to open a sushi restaurant; knowing about Du’s love of cooking, the friend asked Du to work part-time as a sushi chef. During the day, Du would attend class; afterward, he spent his extra time learning the fine art of sushi.
After graduating from college in 2010, Du went into the corporate world to pursue a career in computer science. After about six years, Du realized he did not love what he was doing—and decided to follow his passion.
In 2016, his dream became a reality with the opening of Hinoki Sushi on Longley Lane. A few years later, in 2018, he decided to expand his love of Japanese cuisine to ramen with Haru, also on Longley Lane.
With the success of Hinoki Sushi and Haru, Du saw the growing popularity of Japanese cuisine in Reno—and decided it was time to introduce the concept of omakase. With upscale experiences and a beautiful, trendy atmosphere for locals and visitors to enjoy, the Village at Rancharrah was the perfect fit.
While omakase typically has very strict etiquette that must be followed, especially in Japan, Du invites his guests to “break the rules” when dining at Hinoki O; however, if he serves a handroll, he prefers that it is eaten right away, so the seaweed will still be crunchy.
“I don’t really like rules, so when dining at Hinoki O, you can do whatever you want,” Du says. “What is important is that you enjoy the food and the experience.”
Hinoki O will be closed in October, and will start taking reservations in mid-October for November. The restaurant is open Thursday through Saturday, from 5 to 9 p.m., and is by reservation only. There are two seatings a night, with only four to six people per seating. Due to the limited seating and the unique ingredients used in the execution of this experience, guests are required to prepay for their reservations, and Hinoki O has a no-refund policy. The dining experience has been priced at $120 per person, including all specialty courses created by the chef for that seating time. Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are available for an additional cost. In November, Hinoki O will launch an updated menu with three price points, one of which will include a wine/sake pairing.
Du is always open to requests and is considering hosting a vegetarian omakase which will be based on Buddhistic temple food; a Vietnamese omakase to honor his heritage; and some collaborative omakase experiences featuring other local chefs.
Hinoki O is located at 7500 Rancharrah Parkway, Suite 110, in Reno. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/HinokiOmakase.