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May 8, 2008 02:22 PM

Question about O Ya Omakase

I'm going to O Ya in a couple weeks on a visit to Boston (so very excited!) and was weighing the benefit of getting the omakase vs. ordering off the menu. I know you can specify different price points (like saying I want $125 omakase) but is it actually a better deal - as in, if the omakase had 10 dishes, would it be cheaper than if I ordered those exact ten dishes off the menu? Or is it just a way to not have to decide what to get but pretty much the same price as ordering the same things off the menu. I ask because I'd prefer to order exactly what I want but if the omakase is really a better deal I might have to go with that.
Also, how picky is it okay to be when ordering the omakase? I read about how some people specified "no raw fish" or "no beef" and that was fine, but it would probably be in bad form to say "no raw seafood except salmon and no mushrooms, but truffles are fine," right?

Appreciate any help!

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  1. There's no discount on items via the omakase. You benefit from a nicely-crafted progression of dishes, but there's no financial incentive to do it. If you know exactly what you want, and don't enjoy the element of surprise, I suppose there's no real reason not to order a la carte.

    If you do order the omakaze, you can be as specific as you need to in terms of restrictions; they're very accommodating.

    1. I think you can and should be as specific about your needs and desires and proscriptions as possible when doing the omakase at o ya. They are very accommodating and non-judgmental. It's a pretty fine experience, one of those meals where you will close your eyes to focus all your attention on the flavors and textures.

      1. Omakase is not a better deal and really not an omakase at all - it's a selection of dishes from the menu. As finlero and MC Slim JB have noted, O Ya is very accommodating in both price point and requests, but if you'd like to have complete control over what you're ordering, rather than leaving it to the hands of the chef, you should probably order a la carte.

        9 Replies
          1. re: wittlejosh

            We have an upcoming reservation as well and was leaning towards the a la carte. My question - is each dish enough for two to share? If it is sushi, would there be one piece or two? And for two of us, how many dishes should we order? Help!

            1. re: sibeats

              I've only been in pairs or solo, and as a rule they offer an evenly-divisible number of pieces in nigiri-zushi or sashimi so everyone can get the same amount. I did a modest omakase by myself where I had twelve different courses, most of them a single piece of sashimi or sushi, served one at a time with nice breaks in between.

              I believe the number of pieces is not the same for every dish. Some aren't that simply divisible, like the sashimi of mushrooms, which are scattered over a big plate. Once again, that's a variable you can specify, but I don't think you have to worry too much about it.

              Prices aren't a good indicator of substance, e.g., the $45 kushiyaki of Wagyu strip loin is three small kebab-sized chunks on a skewer. (I notice that's not an evenly-divisible number of pieces, either, so my rule of thumb above is not iron-clad.) The Okinawan style braised pork at $18 is a decent small bowl, almost like a stew (and fabulous).

              Somewhere between 6 and 10 courses should be right, depending on what you order and how hungry you are. Order a few courses, then a few more, and if you're still hungry, keep ordering. I think you will find it's the opposite of a stressful experience. That check will be scary, of course, but it's a Very Special Meal.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Are you saying 6-10 courses for two of us to share? Or is that each? If you do an omakase for two and specify $125 each, I assume that they bring each course split into two plates. So do those two plates equal one a la carte order in size? Sorry... I'm not usually this dense!
                My only hesitancy with the omakase is that I can be a little picky with textural things, as in I'm not a fan of really mushy, (dare I say slimy) foods such as raw oysters, and foie is not high on my list, so I wonder by the time you specify what you don't want on your omakase, are you better off just ordering a la carte?!

                1. re: sibeats

                  $125 a head will get you plenty of food if you don't order too much of that pricey Wagyu beef. You sound particular enough that ordering a la carte might be a better idea, but I've seen people order omakase with a lot of restrictions, and the server and kitchen handled it just fine. If two people are getting the same course, it comes out on one plate.

          2. re: gini

            I'm replying to this post in an old thread to ask a question: Is there a true omakase (meaning not just items off the menu) anywhere in Boston? Suddenly I have to find a killer sushi spot for tomorrow night with a special colleague and sushi-lover from out West, and I want to show off the current best-in-show sushi place in Boston. Is O Ya all that or is there another place downtown that I should consider?

              1. re: marais

                Uni is a fine recommendation; just be aware that it is a sashimi bar, not a sushi bar.

                1. re: marais

                  It's not in Boston, but Mandarin in Reading will do a true omakase. I've always had great experiences there.

              2. Get an omakase. It is honestly a religious experience.

                1. A follow-up question: if I'm just ordering a la carte (which I think I'm going to do given that the omakase doesn't offer a price discount), and not planning on ordering any of the raw fish nigiri/sashimi, 10 dishes for myself would probably be too much, right? I have the impression that the seafood nigiri/sashimi plates are smaller than the meat and vegetable plates, perhaps because of the price differential, so while one could easily eat 10-12 nigiri/sashimi plates, it would be hard to eat that much if ordering mainly off the second page of the menu. Is this correct? I have a pretty healthy appetite but am not in the 99th percentile of eating capacity by any means.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: ViolentScarlet

                    I think the a la carte is just as religious.

                    A note: They are happy to make the nigiris as threes and sashimis as fours, for a proportionate price increase.

                    1. re: ViolentScarlet

                      My guess is that would be a lot, particularly if you get the wagyu, which is very rich. If you stick to the non-sushi, I would say you could eat four or five things and be more than full, but my suggestion would be to ask them. You can definitely order two or three things and then order more if you are hungry, they are extremely nice and low-pressure there.


                      1. re: bza

                        This thread raises a question in my mind about O Ya. We have reservations for the week after next. It will be my husband, 19 yr. old son and I. We will only order sushi or sashimi. No matter how intensely fabulous the food experience, our 19 yr. old can put away sushi. I am getting concerned about the cost of this experience. Any suggestions for alternatives? We are staying in Boston and can not venture to the outlying areas.

                        1. re: backfixr

                          We only get sushi and sashimi as well. The portions are very small. We have left there with a $300+ bill for two people (food only) and barley been full, and we are fairly light eaters. When I think of the amount of food I could put away in high school, I shudder to think how much damage I could do at O Ya. You might want to consider Osihii in the South End for an excellent but slightly more filling experience. The big difference being that maki are much more filling than tasting portions of sashimi. Either way, you will have a great meal.

                          I also enjoy Douzo a great deal, though most will agree that it is a notch below Oishii.

                          1. re: Gabatta

                            That was the clear answer I needed. I am cancelling O Ya and I have already reserved at Oishii. One day O Ya with DH and I by ourselves. I fully appreciate a memorable meal. We both remember our 20th anniversary dinner at Aqua in San Francisco in 1999 as one of the best dinners we have shared.

                          2. re: backfixr

                            I can only suggest that to bank on O Ya making you full will likely be expensive. O Ya can leave you sufficiently sated, but if you know your son has a hearty appetite than O Ya is not the best choice. However, it's a good experience, and if you think your family would appreciate it, then manage the omakase to acceptable levels of your budget and then plan to grab something to fill up on in Chinatown before or afterwards. It's just steps away with plenty of cheap but good food options there.

                            1. re: kobuta

                              I agree with the above posters. O Ya is not the place to get stuffed on sushi/sashimi. That being said, I would not miss the opportunity to dine there. My recent meal there was a truly religious experience having experienced truly mind-blowing flavor combinations and compositions.

                              Our party consisted of three people and we ordered a total of 17 dishes (including 2 desserts) with many increased to provide for three pieces or bites. As the above poster noted, while we were not full we felt very satisfied following our meal (as well as light in the wallet as the above meal with a nice bottle of wine totaled $400 exclusive of gratuity). It was worth every penny. Good Luck.