311 Omakase Brings a High-End Japanese Feast to a South End Brownstone

Simplicity meets surprise at this fresh take on the traditional.

A crab shell is open to reveal crab meat topped with orange uni and a dollop of caviar.

311 Omakase’s kegani (horsehair crab) uni caviar. / Photo by Anna Arriaga

Featuring an 18-course Japanese seafood journey that takes diners from horsehair crab to horse mackerel, 311 Omakase is now open in Boston, tucked in the cozy basement of a South End brownstone. With special care given to sourcing flawless ingredients and putting a slight modern spin on traditional omakase, this new entry in the city’s somewhat substantial high-end Japanese restaurant scene aims to carve out its own niche.

311 Omakase is the first foray into restaurant ownership for chef Wei Fa Chen. He has a decade of experience working at Japanese restaurants, including training under acclaimed chef Masayoshi Takayama at Masa in New York, learning traditional high-end Japanese cooking techniques, including the intricacies of seafood preparation. His wife Carrie Ko is manager; you’ll see her facilitating the meal, giving detailed explanations of the ingredients and techniques behind each dish.

A man wearing chef's whites stands behind a light wooden counter, smiling at the camera.

Wei Fa Chen at 311 Omakase. / Photo by Anna Arriaga

The menu changes regularly, but the meal tends to start with showstopping appetizers that set a tone of luxury and attention to detail for the rest of the evening. At the beginning, Chen might serve kegani (horsehair crab or hairy crab), a popular pick in Japan due to its sweetness but not often on the menu at Boston restaurants, plated in its own shell and topped with rich uni and briny caviar; ikura kanpachi monaka, a hearty scoop of salmon roe and finely chopped amberjack served in a sandwich-like mochi cracker; hotate (scallops), grilled; and sea bream gussied up with a bit of earthy truffle.

Next up, a parade of other beauties, such as aori ika, a soft squid nigiri dusted with lime zest, and two rounds of tuna—one lean, one a fatty belly cut. Arriving late in the meal, miso soup is a palate cleanser, and Chen’s take on it includes a deeply savory smoked anchovy broth with aged miso, garnished with chives, omitting the usual tofu and seaweed. The tamago, a Japanese rolled omelet, also offers a glimpse of Chen’s ability to give a traditional dish a creative spin. His version features aged, ground shrimp and Japanese black sugar, which is seared to give the egg a flavor reminiscent of crème brûlée.

Overhead view of a round, hollowed out cracker split in two and full of salmon roe with an herbal garnish.

311 Omakase’s ikura kanpachi monaka. / Photo by Anna Arriaga

Most of 311 Omakase’s seafood comes straight from Japan—primarily Hokkaido, “the place to be for seafood,” says Ko—but as a rule of thumb, Chen builds his menu around the freshest seasonal ingredients, with an eye toward unique, high-end offerings like that horsehair crab. From closer to home, he’s currently serving Massachusetts-caught bluefin, because it’s in season here. It’s this careful sourcing that Chen and Ko hope sets 311 Omakase apart from similar Boston restaurants. “The difference is the fish quality,” says Ko. “We’re looking for simplicity—but also surprise at how much effort [Chen] puts into it.”

Eating at the intimate spot is as entertaining and artful as it is delicious. The ceramic plateware was all made in Japan or by Japanese artists, lovingly collected over two years of visits to the country. Each course is prepared in view of diners, in the traditional omakase style, on a sushi counter made of Hinoki cypress wood, imported from Japan and cared for meticulously by Chen and sous chef Raymond Lin. Interacting with Chen is encouraged—and if you’re lucky, you might get an extra bite or two of sushi.

A light wooden sushi bar with seating for about eight.

311 Omakase. / Photo by Anna Arriaga

311 Omakase offers just 10 seats (reservations available here) for two time slots per night, six days a week (closed Tuesdays). Pricing starts at $230 per person, exclusive of fees, gratuities, side dishes, and beverages. And as far as beverages go, there’s no alcohol for now. Chen and Ko are working on obtaining a liquor license, but in the meantime, Ko assures that you’ll forget about alcohol after a bite of Chen’s food.

However, Ko is excited to get that license—she’s a self-described “sake samurai” and can’t wait to come up with pairings of hard-to-find sakes and eventually host sake tastings and other events, like art sales, bringing 311 Omakase to the next level. As Ko promises, “This is the beginning of everything.”

A brightly lit hallway leads into a restaurant, decorated with white orchids.

311 Omakase. / Photo by Anna Arriaga

605 Tremont St., South End, Boston, 781-831-0311,

Visit our Ultimate Guide to Boston Restaurant Openings, Summer 2023, to learn more about other exciting new openings this season.