Sunday, June 21, 2009

Otherworldly sushi in Boston? O ya!

The Boy turned F-Word this past birthday; he sailed into it much more gracefully than I did. To celebrate, we checked out o ya, the sushi sensation that allegedly has people commuting up from New York for dinner.

Those who claim Boston is superior to NYC must be delighted to have evidence to back up their belief.

I made the reservation through OpenTable, which meant we were at the chef's bar (reserving one of their six tables is only possible by calling).

This turned out to be the best option, as we got to watch o ya's three chefs at work in their tiny space, creating incredible dishes using only veryveryvery sharp knives, a blowtorch and an electric whisk. Oh, and insanely fresh and fabulous ingredients.

I've had sea urchin before, but I'd assumed it was an acquired taste. How could anyone truly enjoy something that tasted as though it had sat in a tidepool on Revere Beach for three days?

The sea urchin at o ya, however, made me realize I just hadn't had fresh uni. This wasn't Revere Beach; it was a deserted Polynesian island. It was amazing.

The other surprise was the onsen egg. Apparently this is a relatively common preparation in Japan—onsen means hot springs, and eggs can be slow-cooked in the water—but it was a revelation to us.

When I think poached egg, I think runny yolk. But here, the yolk was just-just-just cooked; enough to hold together, but still soft, almost custardy. And warm. And topped with wafer-thin slices of pickled garlic.

How good was it? It actually made me cry. Thanks a lot, o ya.

In all, we had:

Kumamoto oyster
watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette

Diver scallop
sage tempura, olive oil bubbles, meyer lemon

Scottish salmon belly
cilantro, ginger, hot sesame oil drizzle

Peruvian-style tuna toro tataki
aji panca sauce, cilantro pesto

Shima aji & sea urchin
ceviche vinaigrette, cilantro

Warm eel
thai basil, kabayaki, fresh Kyoto sansho

Onsen egg
dashi sauce, truffle salt, homemade pickled garlic

Porcelet tonkatsu
seared foie gras, cabbage shiso slaw, dashi apple sauce, hojiso

House-smoked moullard duck tataki
foie gras kabayaki, arima sansho

Foie Gras
balsamic chocolate kabayaki, raisin cocoa pulp, sip of aged sake

Everything was excellent, although (what?) ... the meat dishes weren't as fantastic as the fish. The smoked duck took a lot of chewing; maybe that was more noticable because we'd had several plates of melt-in-the-mouth tender ingredients beforehand. The pork was delicious, but no more amazing (it seemed) than pork anywhere else.

But the last item—the foie gras with chocolate—more than made up for it, especially with the taste of 8-year-old sake (with the color and depth of port).

I made a video. Wanna see? Goes like this:

The only thing I felt bad about was the prep-to-consumption-time ratio; we'd watch as the chef sliced fish with meticulous precision, bathed it in marinade, chose the right kind of plate on which to delicately place the fish, sliced another ingredient, layered them and topped them with tiny, measured amounts of garnishes, and finished them with a spoonful of something from a sizzling pan.

And then our waiter would bring the finished dish to us. And we'd go nom. Nom. And the chef's intense, focused artwork would have disappeared.

I think we'll be going back. O ya.

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Anonymous Dawn said...

We went for our 9th anniversary in September, and I'm still thinking about the hamachi with banana pepper and the kumamato oyster with watermelon pearls. The whole experience was transcendent, and about as sexy as food can get.

And happy birthday, old boy.

9:57 PM  

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