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Apr 2, 2008 05:44 PM

O Ya help


I am taking my fiance to O Ya for our anniversary. I've read a ton about the restaurants but figured I'd reach out to the foodies....

What should I order? Keep in mind that I am on a mild budget (given it's O Ya...) and would love to walk out at $250 or under.

So... suggestions? What have you had there that you love?


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  1. if you're opened minded i'd suggest a $100 p/p omakase. if you drink modestly you could maybe make it on a bit more than $300.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ScubaSteve

      This is very congruent with my own experience. If you avoid the Wagyu/Kobe beef items, a $100/head omakase results in a substantial meal. Granted, I am not exactly a trencherman, but I originally was led to believe that you could spend that much and still walk out hungry there, and I didn't find that to be the case at all. I found a $125/head omakase (again, specifying "no luxury beef") to be more than I could comfortably eat.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Would you recommend ordering a la carte or omakase?

        1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

          I personally enjoy the surprise of omakase, and being brought things I end up loving that I probably wouldn't have chosen myself (like O ya's Okinawa-style braised pork, which was incredible). But I've been with companions at O ya who would have preferred to order a la carte: certain items that they thought were appealing on the menu got left out. You can avoid this by specifying at the beginning that you'd like certain dishes to be included; that's also the time to identify exclusions (e.g., no Kobe, please).

          Another traditional reason to order omakase is to let the chef choose what he thinks is freshest/best/best suited to his skills, but I doubt that diners at O ya are missing out on anything quality-wise by ordering a la carte, since everything is of pretty extraordinary quality, creativity, and freshness.

          I guess it depends on how much control you want to assert. I've definitely had no problem with letting the chefs there decide for me.

          1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

            If you can afford it, omakase is the way to go, especially the first time you go. When we went we were able to point out particular items we really wanted so they would include it. (And my Mom doesn't like raw seafood so they were able to accomidate here with an all cooked omakase and it was equally delicious!!).

            I need to find the menu (barried somewhere in my apartment) and then I can give you my individual recommendations in case you want to go a la carte. But the omakase is deliciouse and totally worth the cost. It was fun to be surprised with each new dish, to find it on the menu (we kept one menu so we could check off and follow along with what we were eating), etc.

      2. We did the omakase there last week and absolutely loved it. We had four people, ordered an extra dish, had three bottles of sake between three of us and three glasses of wine for the fourth. The check came in a little over $600, so I think that two people not going completely over the top should be fine. In the interest of full disclosure, one of doesn't eat red meat or pork and we made that clear up front. There was still one beef dish (with a smaller portion of chicken for the non-beef eater), so that may have kept it down a little.

        Favorites: Fried Kumamoto oyster, Hamachi with viet mignonette, and the foie gras with balsamic and chocolate. Whatever you do, have the fried oyster.

        9 Replies
        1. re: bostonbroad

          Hi- I've got a few questions which may seem a little naive, but I would really appreciate some input.

          We have a situtation where my wife and I are taking another couple and we need this to be a grand affair (we missed their wedding and this may be the last time we see them for a long time) and so we are taking them to Oya. None of us is pigs, but we do like to eat and don't want to go away starving. We'd like to be really impressed, but I don't need a meal of nothing but the most high end ultra expensive items. Here are some questions:

          1. I was thinking (before I read the above) that if we asked for omakase at between $150 and $200 per person, this would fit the bill. Do you agree? Is $200 maybe a little high? Based on bostonbroad's note above, I am guessing the omakase was only in the $125 range and it sounds like it was plenty.

          2. Also, I assume on an $1000 tab, ($800 omakase and $200 drinks) we would put down another $200 for tip. To be honest I've never spent close to this amount on a dinner, much less at a sushi place, so to whom does this tip go? The sever or the sushi chef? Or do you split it up?

          3. Should we "forewarn" Oya regarding what we are going to do before the day of the meal, or is $150/$200 per person so run of the mill for them that we should just tell them when we start dinner?

          4. I would assume that the best place for this meal would be at the sushi bar. Agree? Or, if we can get a table, is that a close enough second best?


          1. re: drbangha

            1. $200 sounds high. I've been sated, not stuffed, at $125, and that included wagyu beef and foie gras.

            2. I don't know specifics as to how they structure their tip sharing, but you can rest assured they have a procedure in place to take care of their entire staff. No need to divvy it up yourself.

            3. If you have a reservation, no need to forewarn them -- this is what they do.

            4. For four, I'd personally prefer a table-top for conversation. The bend in the sushi bar would work too, with two people on each side of the bend, but if you're all sitting in a row, I feel like that would be awkward.

            1. re: drbangha

              Here's what I would do:

              1. I'd go with $150 for a grand time, and start with a small bottle of the sparkling sake.
              1a. Ask if the following are included in the omakase they've chosen; if not, add them and pay à la carte. (I think these are the best items on the menu, and critics have said similar)
              • hamachi nigiri with banana-pepper mousse
              • kin medai sashimi with lemon oil and something else
              • daikon dumplings with miso nut filling
              • grilled mushroom "sashimi"

              2. There are three sushi chefs. I always just tip the server and assume the house will distribute as needed. (But someone correct me, please!)

              3. Just tell them when you start. Not uncommon.

              4. 100 percent, the bar. I think the tables are too dark, plus it's fun to see the masters at work. If you can get the corner position (two and two), so much the better.

              1. re: wittlejosh

                I would tip the server the 20%+ and, if you're feeling particularly generous, I don't think it would hurt to buy a economical bottle of sake for the sushi chefs.

                I think $125 pp is plenty, even with some of the lux dishes. I'd probably think of getting a bottle and a half of sake per person.

                If you spent a grand for four people before tip, I think you would roll out of there stuffed and dangerously drunk, which sounds fine by me.

                1. re: wittlejosh

                  I will correct you. It is illegal in MA for the house to touch the servers' tips, and it is illegal for the house to require that servers tip-out. If you want the chefs to receive a tip, you have to hand it to them, or specify that the separate amount is for them specifically.

                  1. re: almansa

                    You may be right about the law.

                    But I do know of several fairly big-name restaurants where servers and bartenders are required to tip out.

                    1. re: wittlejosh

                      The restaurants are taking huge risks. A number of area restaurants were found to be doing this - some even inadvertently - and were forced to pay seven figure settlements.

                      1. re: almansa

                        Actually, you are partially right here - it is illegal for a restaurant to require servers to tip out managers, or anybody who serves the role of a manager - i.e. You can no longer require that all the servers give the "Head Waiter" a cut like you could in the old days.

                        Servers can be required to tip out other members of the service team, back waiters, bartenders, hosts, hostesses, and busboys - but I have never heard of a situation where the back of the house staff is tipped least not in the last 20 years.

                        1. re: roejimmy

                          So should I take from this discussion that I should break out the tips between server and chef?

            2. Wow, I've been thinking of taking my husband fto Oya for this birthday, but admit to being blown away by these prices! I don't mind spending top dollar for quality food, but are these really justified prices? Not trying to be cheap here, just don't want to spend this kind of money to wind up at Pizza Regina's later.

              9 Replies
              1. re: kate used to be 50

                i do think they are worth it. if there was another place in Town doing similiar for less then it would not be. but for the level of quality, presentation, experience and atmosphere it's worth it.

                1. re: kate used to be 50

                  Honestly, traditional notions of value are kind of out the window here. There's no way I can spend $400 on dinner for two at O Ya and say "Yes, that really was four times as good as Trattoria Toscana," or eight times as good as Angela's, or twice as good as La Voile.

                  I feel really fortunate that I have the funds to spend on occasional decadent meals like this without it being a serious financial sacrifice (and frankly, I'm also wracked with first world guilt over it).

                  My take would be that as excellent (sometimes even transcendent) as the food at O Ya can be, there's no way it can justify its prices in the manner you're describing. In fact, I'd even argue that for some, the cost-prohibitiveness of the menu is part of the restaurant's allure. If you're hoping to walk out of there saying, "That meal was absolutely worth $400," I'd say steer clear, because it's really, really unlikely to happen.

                  1. re: finlero

                    I don't think the meal has to be $400. From what I've read, you can comfortably eat at $125 a person and be happy. If you don't need to get every insane thing on the menu (and it seems like everything on the menu is incredible anyways...) I'm sure you can do just fine under $300...

                    1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

                      Thank you all for your comments. And yes, we are lucky also to afford decadent meals on occasion (and what better occasion then my husband's birthday!). I suppose this is cheaper than flying him to Japan, though I have flown him to places strictly for the food. Last place we went was Primo's in Rockland (ok we didn't fly to that destination, but you get the point). Yummy.

                      1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

                        that $125 p/p will not include drinks/taxes/tip.

                      2. re: finlero

                        i don't think i can agree with your argument regarding something being twice or four times as good and then thinking that the price should be linear. i think it's more exponential. and then when you know that peoples tastes and perceptions are so subjective the math doesn't add up for me.

                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                          Actually, that was essentially the point I was trying to make. When you're in this stratum of restaurant, the mathematics of value just don't work, at least not like they do at restaurants with a lower price point.

                          At O Ya, or any other stratospherically-priced restaurant, you're not paying for sustenance, but rather for an experience. Even for us chowhounds, who pride ourselves on finding restaurants that care about food above style, we're still paying for the experience of those few fleeting moments of sublime, but ephemeral deliciousness. I'd venture to say that the higher the cost of the meal, the harder it is to justify that those fleeting moments are "worth it". And this is why as a rule, if someone asks a question about O Ya's value, I tend to think it's unlikely to be a good fit.

                          1. re: finlero

                            Point taken, but again - not into pretentious dining.

                      3. re: kate used to be 50

                        100% worth it. The prices are high but the meal I had was probably ranked in the Top 10 in my life. You will find nothing like this in Boston. You are not only paying for totally fresh ingrediants but a craftmanship that is art-like. The flavor combinations are genious and the service is helpful and professional. It is a small restaurant for people serious about food.

                        And as for the folks that walked away not full, I was totally full! We had the omakase and by the end I wasn't at all hungry. I didn't feel stuffed to the gills but who wants to feel like that anyway. I felt satisfied and was on cloud 9 from such a wonderful food experience.

                      4. Wow! So I just made a reservation for H's birthday (just so you know, it's a month away and I could only get bar seats). They require a $50/person deposit secured with a credit card which they will charge if you do not cancel the reservation within 24 hours. I'm really relying on all you Hounds and your educated opinions. I'm not in to pretentiousness.

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: kate used to be 50

                          Kate, I'm going tonight for my anniversary. I will let you know what I think.

                          1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

                            Thanks (again).

                            And happy anniversary! When is the big date? I assume the food will be an important component to this event.

                          2. re: kate used to be 50

                            The $50 deposit is new. I always think it's a little tacky when restaurants require a credit card number with a reservation, but I guess I understand why they do it.

                            Just an fyi about reservations in advance at O Ya: I know it's wicked hard to get a table now, but I walked in at 8:00 on Tuesday night and got a seat by myself at the bar. I was all by my lonesome, but the seat next to me was empty the whole time I was there.

                            1. re: kate used to be 50

                              I'm not against deposits (which incidentally O ya started requiring before the Bruni review). There are far too many diners who blow off reservations without a call, or make reservations at multiple restaurants for the same evening and don't bother to cancel their no-shows. That's frustrating for the average host, and maddening if not downright lethal for a place with O ya's small capacity and astronomical food costs.

                              I think if you really had a good reason to cancel on shorter-than-24-hour notice at most places that take deposits, they wouldn't charge you, with the likelihood increasing the further ahead of your reservation your cancellation call was. How many times have you had to suddenly beg off of a big occasion dinner? (If O ya is not an occasion for you, you can probably safely gamble the $50 anyway.)

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                Having worked in several service industries (and many food establishments), I understand the need to require the credit card. I've just never seen $50/person before. What is confusing to me is the need to do this when they are turning people away. Surely they don't need to charge for a no-show when their book is almost full a month in advance. JMHO.

                                I am very excited to read that O Ya is not pretentious. My posts may appear misleading, but I do not mind paying for well executed food and service. It is when I pay top dollar for medicore food and service that just plain bugs me.

                                BTW - last year I took H to Straight Wharf in Nantucket for his birthday. Now that was an expensive dinner!

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  You're right, MC, about the necessity of credit cards and deposits and all that. I guess it just makes me feel like they don't trust me right away, whereas I see myself as a reliable and trustworthy reservation-maker and I would never not cancel if my plans changed. But they don't know me, so why should they trust me?

                                  Anyway, I didn't intend for my post to sound like an argument against O Ya for requiring a deposit. I meant to be saying that, in spite of all the press and the hype and the credit card numbers, you can still go there for a spontaneous dinner. Maybe not with a large party, but they were happy to serve my party of one spur-of-the-moment style. In a pretentious restaurant, I might have felt uncomfortable eating alone. But O Ya has a certain relaxed and friendly informality that made me feel quite welcome.

                                2. re: kate used to be 50

                                  Unless it has changed in the past 5 or 6 months, I didn't find O Ya pretentious at all.

                                  Also, compared to multiple places in NYC, I wouldn't classify the prices as "stratospheric" either.

                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                    Agree Al -- I didn't find it to be pretentious. Expensive yes but not pretentious.

                                    the oyster with melon pearls is perfection
                                    the yellowtail with a shower of green onions is delightful
                                    the raw shrimp they had special one night was sweet like candy

                                    I think it's a great spot and I'm glad they are doing so well ... bar reservations a month in advance!

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      I would like to thank everyone for their very helpful comments and suggestions today. I really appreciate the effort and I have a much better sense for this.

                                      1. re: drbangha

                                        Ok, so we went last night, showed up early and were instantly seated at a table. Sadly Nancy and Tim were out of town accepting an award (can't remember the magazine.) Even without our hosts in attendance, the staff was incredibly sweet and gracious. There really wasn't a drop of pretentiousness from the staff or clientele - just a bunch of very, very happy people all around.

                                        We decided to go with the omakase. We probably should have asked about pricing (final bill with tip slightly exceeded $400...,) but it was worth every single penny. Do note that we probably could have stopped at around $200 worth of food, but hey, you only live once.

                                        My fiance's comment summed up our experience, "I feel like we have an Iron Chef cooking for us." I'm a huge fan of plating, and kept repeating the word stunning. Each dish had it's one plate, the next more lovely than the last. Every dish was prepared so perfectly, like a work of art. In particular, the sea bass sashimi with edible flowers was as delicate and graceful as anything I've seen. I honestly wanted to take a photo of the dish.

                                        The foie gras and wagyu were simply divine. The oysters with melon ball was a complex yet tender explosion of flavors - simply delightful. The chantarelle mushroom dish was elegant - rich and suprisingly sweet (almost like rock candy.)

                                        The wagyu beef was delicious, but probably could have been skipped. The foie gras with balsamic and chocolate must be tried.
                                        Our dessert actually was our favorite - the wild berry crunch.

                                        I wish I had an hour or two to write about every dish (sadly I have to work...) but this will be a meal I will remember for a very long time.

                                          1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

                                            So glad you both enjoyed your experience.

                                            Don't you hate when work gets in the way of good food chat?

                                            1. re: Mr Bigglesworth

                                              Yay Mr Bigglesworth! thanks for reporting back.

                                              Curious about one thing you said ... should have checked on pricing for the omakase ... usually I'd say "we'd like omakase of $100 per person for food" or something like that. Was the confusion there simply because you said "we'd like omakase"? I just want to make sure I say it right the next time I save my pennies!

                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                I've gone to O Ya twice, and ordered the omakase both times. The first time, we ordered the omakase and asked that it be roughly $100pp. The second, we just ordered the omakase, and it came out to about $125. I wonder if they've ratcheted up their prices (or the number of items in the omakase) since they've received all the national exposure...

                                                1. re: finlero

                                                  We simply asked for the omakase - slight mistake, but one I'm not regretting at all. We also ordered four glasses of wine (apx $50) - by the way, the grenache blanc was exquisite - plus tip! So, I'd say that the meal was closer to $150 / $150 per person, but don't forget, that included the wagyu, listed on the menu at $45.

                                      2. re: kate used to be 50

                                        I did not find the restaurant pretentious at all. To the contrary, for the price and the high level of craft I would the place very relaxing. The waiter was layed back, not snooty at all. He did not scoff at my Mom's request for "nothing raw." My parents have eaten at Nobu and said it was totally different because it wasn't a "scene." The focus was on the food and the food only. The staff was incredibly friendly and towards the end of the meal we even got to speak with one of the owners. She was very friendly and casual and discussed saki with my father. The whole thing was just really nice.

                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                          We just got in off the wait list. I will make my report. Thanks for all the info above.

                                      3. There seems to be much discussion about the quantity of food vs value at O Ya. My first response to this is that we should be so lucky to have a restaurant that treats food like an art and that isn't pretentious. In fact, it's a great place to go for an anniversary. With its dim lighting and the music selection I found the restaurant had a romantic vibe.

                                        Answering your question about what to order and my comments about quantity can be summed up as follows -- How much foie gras and truffle oil can these complainers possibly eat? Next time these people should just go to an all-you-eat-buffet or an olive garden with crap food and giant portions.

                                        Actually, my friend and I were happy we didn't order the chef's special (a set order mutiple dishes). Instead, we enjoyed watching the food getting prepared and ordering the delicious-looking items (all of them) and after a couple of dishes we were very full and happy. Our bill was less than $200. As you can tell we're both preaching the gospel of O Ya. I wouldn't go to Boston without making a reservation.

                                        Have a great anniversary and enjoy your meal!