Stopped in the other night for dinner and was very impressed. It's located on a deserted side street near South Station..definitely off the beaten path and you feel like you are finding a secret place.
Small intimate space, brick exposed walls, beautiful solid wood sushi bar..
We had 6 dishes from the nigiri/sashimi page and 1 cooked dish..and all were spectacular. We`sat at the bar (only place to sit IMO) and watched the chefs work...beautiful fish and interesting sauces/spices/herbs. There are probably 12 or more different squeeze bottles with different sauces.
One issue; if you go when they're not too busy..we were there about 7..you basically have a private chef. That's good; but the drawback is that you could probably be in and out in 1/2 hour to 45 mins. That may be a positive for some; but I like to spend a little more time enjoying a fine dinner...issue that's easily resolved..we sipped our sake and ordered the braised pork..but just something to be aware of. I'd drink more between courses and order more slowly next time..:) also bring a nice baguette to soak up some of the sauces..:)
As others have mentioned; it's expensive. Is it worth it? It's certainly not a "best value" but if you can afford it and enjoy Japanese food..yes. It's on a par with Uni price wise..and it's a more complete restaurant with a full kitchen. I don't think there's anywhere else in Boston except Uni to get the fish and creative preparations that are available here. The ingredients they are using are expensive..qualifier..I haven't been to Oishii SE yet.
I checked an old cc bill..and almost to the $, it was the same price as a recent "dinner" in South Beach where we had a few apps at the bar at David Bouley's new restaurant in the Ritz..Japanese menu..and on to Nobu for a few more.
The service was excellent and the owners are very gracious...offering us a dessert of sparkling sake.
I could write more but I put some comments on my pic site..
(long and lingering-like my experience!:)
Went last night with husband and friend (friend lives on South Street). I am still savoring the night and I have already had my morning coffee.
We lingered for two hours. It was as if we had gone to relaxation therapy. This is a place to linger and let the food come slow to table. And please savor it, do not rush it. The music is simple and yes they play the Beatles. The build out is lovely. I did find the kitchen light to be really really bright in comparison to the dining area, maybe that can be tweaked.
We went with no expectations and we were delighted. The owners, Tim the chef and Nancy the sake sommelier, were so gracious. Tim came and talked with us a while about his techniques and how they have acquired the foods for the menu. The menu changes everyday (it goes to print at 4). He is imparting techniques that he has learned all over the world. He has recently been a chef consultant all over Boston so he is pretty familiar with the territory. His wife Nancy is well versed on the subtleties of sake and paring it with the food.
We had the following (forgive me I do not remember the proper titles)
Chicken Broth with Fois Dumpling-this is a serious broth that leaves that silky mouth feel that you want to take home and have for safe keeping. The flavor is deep but not heavy. The dumpling is a creamy pillow that melts into your tongue.
Eel Nigiri - warm, sweet and perfect portions of two pieces-highly recommend!
Salmon Nigiri with torched tomato - warm fatty and tasty- highly recommend!
Kummado Oyster with cucumber miognette and watermelon pearls - buttery and sweet, the melding of flavor and textures and the beautiful presentation-*sigh I could have had a dozen.
Beet Carpaccio - cool and cleansing- this was lovely, slightly too tart at the time and I would like to try again with a sparkling sake
Braised kurobuto pork- small portion I wish it was larger because it was so tender and flavorful. The pork shoulder with the broth was the perfect larger dish and the black eyed peas allowed it to be filling.
Chicken thighs- YES YES YES did I mention YES?!! A meaty bamboo bowl of yumminess!
Daikon dumplings- ohhh these were nice and filling. The presentation was only superseded by the lovely burst of miso filling. I would start with this next time
Fried zucchini- ok we ordered these TWICE! Once at the beginning and again at the end. Tim explained how he gets these to be creamy inside, crunchy outside and flavorful all around. I could honestly go back and have the Japanese white beer and these and call it good for the night!
The soy blanc mange was creamy and light. It needed to be heightened in some way. Maybe an infusion of lemongrass or sweet pea?
The fruit crisp was a joy! Sweet, crunchy and bursting with freshness! Its large enough for two to enjoy I recommend highly!
We had the moon sake-it was light and fruity and paired well with everything we had.
When you go please ask for Nancy, she will have you try sake until you find the one for your meal. It is worth it. The entire evening did cost real money. But the experience and the joy my palette had was worth it. I left full but not stuffed and I really felt well taken care of. I hope to hear more about other chowhounds found oya!
Thanks to all these great posts (and the great pics), I was especially excited to try this place. Went Friday night for dinner and it was really fabulous. Called ahead to find out if there was a wait and was told they'd have a spot for us within 15 minutes. When we arrived, we waited a few short minutes during which time both the hostess and one of the owners (I think she introduced herself as Nancy?) told us our table would be ready shortly. We ordered the sparkling sake which I had never had before and found quite enjoyable. My favorites of the night were the hamachi nigiri with banana pepper mousse, salmon tataki nigiri with coarse salt, tomato and something that I'm forgetting and of course the otoro with lots of scallions. That otoro was MELT IN YOUR MOUTH. It really wasn't overly busy especially by around 9:30 or so when the place was really emptying out. I hope the word gets out about this place. It is pricey but it's quality. I can totally see myself popping in for dinner at the sushi bar often on my way home from work.
9Lives, if you promise to take me to O-Ya next time i'm in Boston i'll take you to Tojo's (Vancouver BC) next time you are in the Seattle area (PS. bring your passport)! The chef in your picture who is holding out the toro for inspection used to work at Oga in Natick.
BW...Don't you have family in Boston? visit regularly? sounds like a bad bet but we'll work something out..:)
That chef was right in front of us..and yes Oga. He was very personable and skilled. In between courses, we'd watch him work..If you love food, which we all do or we wouldn't be here, the pleasure of that has to be factored into the overall experience of the meal.
9Lives, finally got to try it. Made up for my tardiness by going 3 times in 5 days. Agree with all the recommendations above (and that the uni was surprisingly underwhelming), Would add to the list of musts the Peruvian style chutoro, which, although not as luscious as the otoro, had a great sauce and pesto on top. Also enjoyed the sayori (i forget what was on top), the salmon with torched tomato, the foie gras with balsamic chocolate, the shima aji w/ spicy grapeseed sauce, the potato chip w/ truffle. Would probably skip the enoki mushrooms, onsen egg, braised pork and ss crab (all merely very good, as opposed to orgasmic) next time. But overall a real treat. It tops Sushi of Gari for this style, imo.
I've been a few times already.
Must-have dishes IMO:
Hamachi nigiri with banana-pepper mousse
Diver scallop sashimi with sage tempura, olive oil bubbles and Meyer lemon
Otoro with anything (the "lots of scallions" version is a nice choice)
Spot prawn with white soy, garlic butter, preserved yuzu and microgreens
Daikon "dumpling" with miso-nut filling
Even the fried zucchini is perfectly rendered, dotted with wasabi, scallions, peppers, etc.
I wasn't bowled over by:
Hamachi with viet sauce
Tonkatsu with foie and celeriac puree
$15-20 is a good range if you avoid the Waygu beef section. The beef goes considerably higher. There are a few less and toro will be more but that's a good range.
Everything we had was very good. Weakest dish was the sea urchin..There was nothing wrong with it but it didn't shine above most other sea urchin I've had and was inferior to Uni's version (name like Uni, you need great Uni) I had stopped in a week earlier and they had the urchin live in the shell..when we went, they didn't.
What I like to do is ask the sushi chef, "is there anything particularly good tonight?" I've always found that to work..and they will steer you what they know to be the best of the day. This works in any good sushi bar. I'm an avid fisherman and I like to look at the fish in the case (the scallops didn't "glow" so we passed) A good rapport with the sushi chef can make or break your meal.
Generally, everything is good but some things are going to be better than others.
At a place like O Ya, I leaned toward fish that I don't usually eat..like the kinmedai.
The daikon dumplings were fascinating. As for fish, I strongly recommend asking about what's best that day, and also having a look at the slabs of fish in the display case. I bet that the quality can vary; best to have the sushi chefs guide you to what's optimal.
The desserts are also interesting, and I certainly enjoyed what I had.