Rarely does a restaurant live up to the hype generated by the media but in this case it certainly did. Since being named the number one ‘Coast to Coast, Restaurants that Count’ 2008 by the New York Times’ Frank Bruni, O Ya has been on my radar. We had wanted to try it for quite sometime however, given the expense felt we needed an occasion. We decided it would be a perfect place to celebrate our 8 years in Boston and the last night in town before we flew down south.
The restaurant is located on a non-descript, rather barren, alley in the Leather District. The hidden entrance leads you to a grand space with high ceilings and exposed beams and brick. The space has a characteristic Japanese simple, elegance yet the industrial feel of a renovated fire station. The restaurant is small with only about 40 seats. Our reservation was for the Chef’s Table, which is a long L-shaped cement countertop on one side of the long narrow room.
It was a nice summer night, so we decided on a bottle of the 2007 Chateau de Sancerre, Sancerre. The wine was light and crisp, yet rich with notes of melon and figs. It took us sometime to go over the vast menu and decided what to try. The front of the menu is divided into nigiri and sashimi. The back of the menu lists dishes by ingredient; pork, beef, vegetable, etc. We tried three nigiri, two sashimi, one pork, one wagyu beef and one from the “something crunchy in it” category.
Scarlet Sea Scallop white soy yuzu sauce, yuzu tabliko – the scallop was tinted pink as it was marinated in a beet juice which intensified the sweetness of the already delicate and sweet scallop.
Peruvian Style Chutoro Tataki aji panca sauce, cilantro pesto – the aji panca sauce provided a nice spiciness to the fatty tuna. A great fusion of flavors!
Hamachi spicy banana pepper mousse – the hamachi was seared which gave the dish a smokiness that was nicely complemented by the spiciness of the banana pepper mousse.
Scottish Salmon spicy seasame ponzu, yuzu kosho, scallion oil – this was fantastic! The citrus of the ponzu was perfectly balanced by the spiciness of the yuzu kosho sauce and balanced the fatty texture of the fish.
Suzuki Sea Bass cucumber vinaigrette, avocado, cilantro – a delicious, light and elegant dish.
Okinawan Style Braised Pork boston baked heirloom rice beans, homemade kimchee, soy maple sauce, kinome – perfectly cooked pork with an interesting combination of flavors however, this was our least favorite dish of the evening.
Something crunchy in it:
Wild Rock Shrimp Kakiage mitsuba, fresh yuzu zest, warm seasame mayo – a lovely shrimp cake! The rock shrimp were sweet and beautifully fried served with a delicious almost pesto-like cilantro sauce.
Seared Petit Strip Loin 2o.z. tiny smoked potato, grilled onion, fresh wasabi – Amazing! The beef is beautifully marbled and simply melts in your mouth while the delicate sear provides a nice crunch. Honestly, the best beef I have ever tried! We had not tried wagyu beef but it was well worth the price.
We ended with the Tres Leches Soaked Boston Crème Pie. This was a delicious take on the traditional Boston Crème pie. The desert played with a variety of textures with the cold and creamy pie to the light and airy cocoa crumbles which just melt in your mouth.
The service was perfect. Our waiter was helpful and informative when we asked questions but otherwise, not obtrusive or pretentious. The meal had a nice flow and after each dish we were anxiously awaiting what was to come.
Overall, the meal and experience was just wonderful!! One of the best meals we have had in Boston and one of the most creative we have experienced ever. While all of the dishes were prepared with traditional Japanese techniques they were in no way limited to traditional ingredients or flavor combinations. At over $150 per person (with tip) this is definitely a restaurant for a special occasion. Celebrating eight wonderful years in a great town which will always hold a very special place in our hearts is surely special occasion enough!
9 East St.
Boston, MA 02111