O Ya, NYC
April 4, 2017
O Ya is the New York offshoot of a successful Boston restaurant. It is sort of a faux-Japanese concept. Elaborate non-Japanese ingredients and flavors are added to traditional Japanese forms. Linda and I went for dinner on March 21, 2017.
The entrance is quite noticeable on East 28th Street.
We were seated in the middle of the long counter where we could watch the five or six chefs at work. Each has his own set of ingredients for which he is responsible. Dishes also come out of the kitchen off to the right. The fired-up grill on the left is for eel.
A blowtorch is used to finish off some sushi toppings, such as hamachi.
Off to our left and behind us were tables for those not at the counter,
Linda started with a glass of Kagua Blanc beer.
I had a glass of Bell’s IPA. Starting with beer helps to set up the palate to enjoy the cuisine and savor the sake.
There is a choice of à la carte or omakase menus at $185 (our choice) or $245.
We ordered a bottle of sake to be served when we had finished our beers:
Watari Bune, Junmai Ginjo 55 (Ibaraki.)
The sake list describes it accurately as: “earthy, light spice, umami.” It is made in a small brewery from an ancient and rare strain of rice. I liked it so much that I found it on the internet and ordered some.
The first dish was
ponzu watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette
The garnishes were not overdone; they enhanced the good oyster flavor.
The following seven courses (except the shrimp) were sushi with various elaborated toppings on rice scooped from a big vat in front of us. The rice was cool and bland by Japanese standards, taking its interest from the other ingredients.
This piece of Japanese amberjack had been seared with a torch and was topped with a sweet yellow pepper mush.
KING SALMON TATAKI
tomato confit, onion aïoli, smoked salt
A complex, pretty, non-Japanese topping for this seared salmon.
HOUSEMADE FINGERLING POTATO CHIP
Well, this was inventive, unusual and delicious. The chip was made from a fingerling potato. It acted as a textural contrast to the rice and generous portion of fragrant black truffle purée. Memorable.
WILD SPOT PRAWN
garlic butter, yuzu tobiko, preserved meyer lemon
The prawn flavor was enhanced.
Garlic-chive blossom omelet sushi
The small garlic-chive flower omelet is folded into a thin envelope. Its subtle flavors are enhanced with wagyu beef fat snow. Very good.
KYOTO STYLE BLUE FOOT MUSHROOMS
Despite its title, this sushi topping was really a seasonal morel. Whatever “Kyoto Style” meant, it was really delicious with a strong flavor.
republic of georgia herb sauce
The tuna was top quality and very tender. The mixed herb topping was nice and a good match, but what the Republic of Georgia had to do with it was a mystery.
green mango slaw, coconut broth
The saucing of this amberjack made it seem quite tropical. I enjoyed it.
nori pesto, micro celery, arare crisps
Some maguro tuna benefits from aging, which brings out the umami and other flavors , as well as tenderizing it. Here it was served with a seaweed sauce, celery curls and rice crackers.
SHISO TEMPURA WITH GRILLED LOBSTER
charred tomato, ponzu aioli
The lobster was luscious and nicely enhanced by its garnishes.
GRILLED SHIITAKE AND BLUEFOOT MUSHROOM
rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth
The grilled mushroom flavor was excellent.
SEARED PETIT A5 WAGYU STRIP LOIN
potato confit, sea salt, white truffle oil
The wagyu beef had beautifully seared edges and a beefy, fatty inside. The white truffle oil and a bit of salt sparked it up. The crusty potato slices underneath were a good base.
balsamic chocolate kabayaki, claudio corallo raisin cocoa pulp,
sip of aged sake.
Seared foie gras sushi was dabbed with an eel sauce and a bit of dark chocolate with wine-soaked raisins. It was served with a glass of eight-year-old sake which was somewhat like sherry and a good match. This was a really luxurious and good course.
The pre-dessert was
ginger soda, tarragon
Refreshing and good, as a pre-dessert should be.
CHAI SPONGE CAKE
brown butter crumble, miso icecream, Asian pear
A nice finish.
Salted caramels to take home.
We had a good time. While I might have a tendency to be offended by all the departures from real Japanese cuisine, I got over that quickly and enjoyed the imagination and more complex combinations. They were well conceived and executed with top quality ingredients. We enjoyed the cooking theater one gets at a counter like this. The service and pace were fine, but the music was much too loud. I could converse with Linda only because we were sitting next to each other at the counter.