By Vincent Noteboom
— Upon entering the dorms, we are greeted by the familiar smells of the apartment strings: beer, weed, cigarettes and garbage. The exception being that one string, which oddly enough always smells a bit like fish.
In it, Kitsanin Thankyakulsajja (Kit) runs his project, an Omakase called Ephemeral. Omakase is Japanese for ‘I trust the chef’, a roughly translated, but classic name for high-quality sushi restaurants. “I basically just really like minimalistic food,” says Kit, a second year student at AUC, who began the project shortly after he arrived. In his Omakase, he serves sushi four times per week, twice per night.
Before the start of the current school year, Kit’s Omakase underwent major upgrades. He invested in new materials for the kitchen, décor and upgraded to a larger room. The formula for this year has changed as well, as there are now two types of dinner: Omakase Introduction and Omakase Uncompromised.
Omakase Introduction is predominantly aimed at students, who are welcomed on Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm onwards. The cost of a single dinner is 10 euros per person, which includes 10 courses for up to six people. Omakase Uncompromised costs 40 euros for 20 courses, for a maximum of six people. Individuals can book the Omakase Uncompromised every Friday and Saturday from 7pm to 9pm.
Kit says that the quality and attention to detail is the same with both options. However, premium products like lobster and blue fin tuna will mostly be exclusive to Omakase Uncompromised. Furthermore, Kit hopes these prices will be sustainable and help him to finally break even. In the future, he plans to include truly high-end dishes under the banner of Omakase Definitive, which would cost 60 euros per dinner.
Business was rather difficult for Kit last year. “I started with 15 euros per meal and served 4 people a night for two nights a week. It was barely enough money to purchase the ingredients needed to serve,” he admits.
As a result of trying to keep the dinners reasonably priced for fellow students, Kit explained, he did incremental tweaks to make it more financially sustainable. The capacity went from four to six people; and the price from 15 to 20, and eventually to 25 euros per meals. Kit admits he hasn’t even broken even yet, but hopes to do so during this school year.
When asked why he chose to specifically run an Omakase, Kit explains that it,“unlike other high food cultures, doesn’t need a very large kitchen.” Yet he admits that cooking sushi has its obstacles, even though the passion behind the process can be very meaningful.
“If I were to manifest into one cuisine, it would probably be sushi. It is something that can reach quite a profound level of flavour and thought in general,” he says. “The challenge with it is that you have two very distinct ingredients, rice and fish, which don’t naturally go together. So your challenge is to find the equilibrium point for each sushi. It defines a chef,” says Kit. “Sushi is a really personal thing. It is not something that can be cooked with a big kitchen. It is more reflective of one chef and how he thinks, rather than a school of thought.”
Kit also explained how the philosophy behind his Omakase and the chosen name (Ephemeral), are both represented in the logo, which is a Sakura flower. Because his project is like a Sakura and they are both ephemeral, it will blossom, wither, and then die. This short lived burst of beauty represents the essence of Kit’s venture.
To reserve a seat for both Omakase Uncompromised and Omakase Introduction, go to the official Ephemeral website.