Since 2017, Star Thai and Sushi on Siesta Key has been one of your best bets for a Suntory highball and a platter of raw fish. Now it's upping its game even more by offering an over-the-top sushi extravaganza that it's dubbed "Ultimate Omakase."
The term omakase refers to a sushi tasting menu, during which the chef will serve up several small courses prepared on the spot. Chef Mike Castro recently began offering omakase menus at Star's Siesta Key location, preparing up to 20 dishes right before your eyes, handing them over while chatting with customers and explaining his process along the way.
Castro introduced the omakase concept at Star's Venice location a while back, and because of its success there, he was tapped to bring the experience to the Siesta Key restaurant. Raised in a family that worked in the restaurant industry, he learned sushi from a chef in Encino, California, before moving to Sarasota.
Star general manager Chez Boodparset says there are four keys to Star's omakase experience: the connection and engagement that come with sitting in front of the chef, the high quality of the products (many of them flown in from Japan), the creativity of the dishes and Castro's "performance."
"This is his show," says Boodparset. "He will be the rock star."
On a recent evening, Castro's menu included bites of lightly grilled octopus, thinly sliced scallops that had been briefly torched, raw shrimp, miso soup made on the spot with the heads of those shrimp (also meant to be consumed), baked king crab, slender slices of A5 Wagyu beef so fatty it melts in your mouth, bluefin tuna, sea bream, a matcha-flavored dessert and (much) more. Toppings and flavorings included extravagances such as gold leaf and truffles, plus freshly grated wasabi left to rest on a paddle coated in shark skin, house-aged soy sauce, citrus, masago and more.
One of the perks of the experience is conversing with Castro, who's eager to explain what he's doing and, more importantly, why. He says he enjoys the process of working right in front of the customer, rather than hidden away in a kitchen. "It gives you more passion," he explains.
Star Thai and Sushi's omakase menu is available at the restaurant's Siesta Key location for dinner Friday-Sunday. The experience ranges from $125 to $225. Reservations are required, and your party must include at least four guests. Star is located at 240 Avenida Madera, Siesta Key. For more info, call (941) 217-6758 or visit the restaurant's website.