If you have an Instagram account (especially if you live close to New York City), you’ve heard of Oishii’s famous Omakase Berries, luxury strawberries that are as rare as they are delicious. As tempting as it may be to shell out $5 per berry (yes, you read that right) to taste fruit that was once exclusively grown on the other side of the world, odds are you want to know if they’re worth the splurge. Read on for our honest review of these viral berries, which are part of a growing luxury fruit trend that’s permeating the food scene.
Oishii Omakase Strawberries Are All Over Our Instagram Feed—But Are They Worth the Hype?
- Value: 17/20
- Quality: 20/20
- Aesthetics: 20/20
- Taste: 19/20
- Texture: 18/20
What Are Omakase Berries?
We know what you’re thinking: How different can Oishii’s Omakase Berry possibly be from a regular strawberry? Well, the Omakase Berry is a rare variety that’s only found seasonally in the fields of the Japanese Alps. It’s so coveted that eating one is considered a full sensory experience, not just a healthy snack. Oishii grows them stateside with the help of an indoor vertical farm that replicates the climate conditions, using sustainable technology and growing them without pesticides. (And in case you’re wondering, “omakase” means “I leave it up to you.” It’s a phrase commonly used at sushi restaurants when a customer requests that the chef prepare whatever he’d like.)
Here’s the catch: Eight large or eleven medium Omakase Berries will cost you $50 (roughly $6.25 and $4.55, respectively, per berry). Select locations have three- and six-piece boxes available for $15 and $30 as well, or for $5 per berry. (No wonder celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chrissy Teigen are fans.)
What Do Oishii Omakase Berries Taste Like?
The first thing you’ll notice is their intense aroma. Your whole kitchen (and fridge) will smell like sweet, fruity strawberries the moment you open the box. The next thing you’ll notice—even before your teeth meet the berries’ flesh—is how soft and juicy they are. They sort of feel like regular strawberries that are past their prime, yet they’re perfectly ripe and unblemished.
Now, onto taste. Omakase Berries are next-level sweet and almost floral, but still bright with just enough acid that they aren’t cloying. They’re absolutely teeming with juice, and their supreme tenderness makes for a luxurious, creamy mouthfeel. The seeds are also very small and delicate, so they don’t interfere with the soft eating experience. The flavor is similar enough to regular strawberries that you’ll love them immediately, but it’s also nuanced enough that you’ll go back for a second bite the moment you’re finished with the first. In short, tasting an Omakase Berry is like eating a strawberry in HD.
But Why Are Oishii’s Omakase Berries So Trendy?
There are a few reasons—namely, they’re part of a larger trend toward valuing “luxury fruit.” In Japan, people often gift each other expensive fruit instead of wine or whiskey. While fruit is a quantity-over-quality deal in America, Japan values the opposite, hence this prized berry’s popularity there. The Omakase Berries have also worked their way into high-end products and restaurants due to their flavor and the buzz surrounding them (see Brightland’s strawberry-infused LUSH vinegar and the strawberry gelato at Carissa’s The Bakery in the Hamptons). Pair the social media-fueled discussion with climatarianism, reducetarianism and a post-pandemic desire among home cooks to incorporate high quality ingredients and more plant-based foods into their meals, and it’s no surprise that luxury fruits are taking off stateside.
This trend predates the Omakase Berry too. Remember when Pinkglow Pineapples took over your newsfeed in 2020? Have you heard of teeny-tiny nano cucumbers? Cloud 9 tomatoes? How about the decidedly adorable kiwi berry, which has become easier and easier to find at local supermarkets? While none of these luxury fruits stray too far from their predecessors, hype and intrigue make tasting them a splurge-worthy experience. (And in the grand scheme, $5 per berry isn’t so bad, considering you can find strawberries over $4K and $200 watermelons in Japan.)
How Do I Buy Oishii’s Omakase Berries?
You’ll have to join a waitlist to order because they’re sold out at the moment, but since Omakase Berries are harvested daily, you likely won’t have to wait long for a restock. Once they’re back, you can order for direct delivery or pickup at select locations. (You also may find these gems at your local specialty food store or Asian market before then.) While the berries are pricy, they’re tasty and unique enough for a treat-yourself snack, a one-time taste test experience or to give as a gift.