It's been almost two years since I last visited O Ya, and while some of the dishes were familiar, I feel that much has been improved and this meal was quite extraordinary. In fact, my friend MN, with whom I've eaten at many top restaurants including Kurumazushi in NYC (my most expensive meal ever), thought that this was the best place I've ever taken him to (although there could be a recency effect). I would put it tied with my meal at 15 East right now for the best meal I've had this year.
Since we were going all out on this dinner, we had to have some sake. This was very good and we finished two of these bottles.
KUMAMOTO OYSTER WITH WATERMELON PEARLS AND CUCUMBER MIGNONETTE This was a terrific start to the meal as you get the briny flavor of the oysters along with the refreshing flavors of the watermelon and cucumber. A good combination of textures that you can still shoot back with ease.
DIVER SCALLOP WITH SAGE TEMPURA, OLIVE OIL BUBBLES, AND MEYER LEMON The scallop was fresh and the textures were good, but I couldn't quite grasp the flavors, especially of the olive oil bubbles or any of the meyer lemon.
SEARED HAMACHI WITH SPICY BANANA PEPPER MOUSSE I originally didn't order this, but I'm glad our server brought it to us. The seared hamachi was deliciously melty while the banana pepper mousse provided a great kick to finish it off. This was also a great combination because you need a fish as strong as hamachi to not get overpowered by the pepper.
SALMON WITH UNFILTERED WHEAT SOY MOROMI, YUZU, SCALLIONS AND SCALLION OIL I don't know much about the moromi, but the flavors all went together really well. The soft (between melty and meaty) salmon was enhanced by the crunch of the scallions as well.
WILD CAPE COD BLUEFIN TUNA MAGURO WITH REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA HERB SAUCE I remember trying this last time and was amazed with the herb sauce and how it went so well with fish. I'm even more amazed after hearing some of the ingredients in the sauce. There's tarragon, basil, and walnut pesto along with a splash of citrus and the sprinkling of sesame seeds. Another good match as the lean, robust maguro was a good canvas for the sauce.
FRIED KUMAMOTO OYSTER WITH YUZU KOSHO AIOLI AND SQUID INK BUBBLES I really liked the warmth provided to the dish by the squid ink bubbles that was then cut by the light refreshing yuzu. The oyster was fried well, although I prefer my fried oysters to be meatier.
HAMACHI WITH VIET MIGNONETTE, THAI BASIL, AND SHALLOTS This was still absolutely delicious although not as mindblowing as when I had it two years ago. I thought there might have been just a little too much soy in the sauce this time. But another great example of using a strong fish and having a lot of things working together with it.
VENISON TATAKI WITH PORCINI CREMA, PONZU OIL, AND BEETS This was a great way to serve venison. I thought the porcini crema was delicious and the beets and greens rounded out each bite beautifully.
SEARED DIVER SCALLOP AND FOIE GRAS WITH SHISO GRAPES AND VIN COTTO This was easily our favorite dish of the night. We couldn't talk while eating it. And while the grapes were good too, this was not so much a dish about balance as it was about decadence and richness. The meaty scallop with the buttery foie gras was like a seafood version of tournedos rossini. Absolutely delicious and hearty.
GRILLED SASHIMI OF CHANTERELLE AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS WITH ROSEMARY GARLIC OIL, SESAME FROTH, AND HOMEMADE SOY Terrific execution showing how mushrooms can be just as meaty, tasty, and satisfying as a steak. I liked it better this time than the last time, probably because the sesame was not as strong (I think there used to be sesame brittle on this dish). I'm also not sure that I like it being served warm. I think I would enjoy this dish more if it came out hot.
SCOTTISH SALMON BELLY WITH CILANTRO, GINGER, AND HOT SESAME OIL DRIZZLE This was a terrific dish for me personally because it reminded me of the Cantonese style steamed fish that my mom would make. The flavors are all there and the fatty belly is always prized to go with that combination.
WILD CAPE COD BLUEFIN OTORO WITH WASABI OIL AND LOTS OF GREEN ONION The sashimi choices come 3 to a plate, but I couldn't help myself so I took this photo after eating a piece. The otoro was fatty as expected and I love the green onion, but what really made this dish for me was the wasabi oil. Wasabi just goes really well with delicious melty fat, adding just a little flavor and kick.
FOIE GRAS WITH BALSAMIC CHOCOLATE KABAYAKI, RAISIN COCOA PULP, AND SIP OF AGED SAKE This is the right way to end a meal like this. A rich and decadent piece of foie gras that is enhanced by the chocolate, balsamic, and cocoa flavors. Something that acts as both the entree and the dessert. All that richness just gets cut with the vinegar from the sushi rice. A terrific combination, and this time I felt that the sushi rice was much improved versus when I visited two years ago.
Our aged sake, aged 8 years and ridiculously smooth.
So that was our meal. The sake was $72 and the total for the bill including tax was around $540. We had one dish each of everything except for the venison, which was just one order that we shared. I certainly understand that it feels a little bit more exorbitant than usual because this is a restaurant in Boston and not NYC, but I felt there was very good value here nonetheless. The ingredients were top notch, and the flavors were creative and abundant. With so much going on in almost every dish, we ended up feeling like we ate a lot more than we did (which was already a lot).
SHISO TEMPURA WITH GRILLED LOBSTER, CHARRED TOMATO, AND PONZU AIOLI Oh wait, we're not quite done. Due to a kitchen error, they made one extra of this dish, and decided that the proper place to put these pieces of lobster was in our bellies. So we got this nice parting gift. I liked the textures put together here and the lobster was grilled pretty well.
O Ya is without a doubt my number one recommendation for Boston (you know, if you like sushi and money isn't too big a factor) and I dare say it might even be worth travelling for.