Otherworldly sushi in Boston? O ya!
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:
watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette
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
thai basil, kabayaki, fresh Kyoto sansho
dashi sauce, truffle salt, homemade pickled garlic
seared foie gras, cabbage shiso slaw, dashi apple sauce, hojiso
House-smoked moullard duck tataki
foie gras kabayaki, arima sansho
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.