HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Discussion

Is O-YA really Boston's best sushi?

I live in Paris and write about restaurant trends there where I know my stuffm but I was just wondering what you all (those in the know) thought about O-YA. Or indeed any other place for dinner that would not be any derivation of French (because I can get all the good stuff at home). Groundbreaking or exceptionally done trad places are fine..

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. A succinct answer: O-Ya

    Here are three threads that might help understand what is unique in Bostonl

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7248...

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7430...

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7414...

    my favorites posters are striperguy, food dabbler, MC Slim JB, and Kathryn - a visitor from NYC who is the Striper of NY.

    1 Reply
    1. Yes, O Ya is Boston's best sushi. Oishii, Uni (for sashimi), Oga's and Toraya are also excellent places for sushi. Clio is perhaps a derivation of French, but is pretty molecular gastronomy-y. L'Espalier and Menton are also French derived, but also have a lot that's unique to New England about them. I'd understand if you aren't as excited about them if you live in Paris, but just realize that they are not the same as French restaurants in France. Locke-Ober is very uniquely Bostonian, and Grill 23 is an outstanding steakhouse.

      Further afield, Boston has great strength in Chinese food (which Paris sorely lacks), from Fuloon, to Sichuan Gourmet, to Jo Jo Taipei in particular. There is some good Thai (especially Dok Bua), good Indian (especially Tamarind Bay), some nice Ethiopian food (I particularly like Asmara), Afghani (the Helmand), and more.

      -----
      L'Espalier
      774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

      O Ya
      9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

      Toraya Restaurant
      890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

      Sichuan Gourmet
      502 Boston Rd, Billerica, MA 01821

      Tamarind Bay
      75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

      Locke-Ober
      3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

      Grill 23 & Bar
      161 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116

      JoJo Tai Pei Restaurant
      103 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

      Menton
      354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

      12 Replies
      1. re: lipoff

        Have you had Jo Jo since Formosa Taipei spun off? I am dying to know how Jo Jo is holding up.

        -----
        Formosa Taipei
        315 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

        1. re: StriperGuy

          The soup dumplings (xlb) at jo jo were still good the last time I was there after the spinoff, although Dumpling Cafe is giving them some competition now

          1. re: StriperGuy

            There has been a slight misconception that Jo Jo somehow dropped way off in quality since the Formosa founding. Not true. I haven't done a lap thru the entire menu, but everything I've had has been the same as it ever was. Changes in menu offerings, sure, but the quality is still there in my experience.

                1. re: Nab

                  Okay, hit Jo Jo today for lunch and it was spot on excellent, whew.

                  1. re: Nab

                    Well I will try it but I'll have to do it alone, because my DC from Beijing does not like Jo Jo. She loves Formosa however. She likes the XLB there in particular, which is not dumplings, but a leavened bread baozi. They are topped with some scallions and sesame seeds, slightly pan-fried only on the bottom. Very pretty.

                    1. re: tatsu

                      those sound like shen jian bao, right? hard to find a really good version of those around here (I haven't tried Formosa's yet)

                      1. re: barleywino

                        yes, those be the ones. formosa's are perfectly spherical. not terribly juicy inside but the combo of soft bread and a crispy bottom is crazy good. ms. beijing says 7.5 out of 10.

                        if you are into them, i would RUN over there my friend. i have mentioned these before here and in my yelp reviews, but no one seems to have picked this up.

                        1. re: tatsu

                          I remember now you *did* mention them-- thanks for the reminder!
                          (ground zero for shen jian bao: http://rasamalaysia.com/juiciest-bao-... )

                          1. re: barleywino

                            This chinese reviewer had a pretty nice blog, with nice pics, but he has sort of dropped off. None the less, here are FT II's XLB, the ones I had at FT in Lexington were a bit nicer, to be honest.

                            http://areyoueye.com/a/index.php?opti...

                            1. re: tatsu

                              the best ones are so airy/ fluffy that it's almost like eating cotton candy with a crunchy bottom (and juicy meat interior)

              1. O Ya is amazing, but I wouldn't call it a sushi restaurant. They call themselves an izakaya, which doesn't capture how luxe the cooking is, but does reference the mix of sushi, sashimi, and cooked dishes they feature, including noodle dishes and real flown-from-Japan Wagyu beef, along with a nice little sake list and beer. It's a good-looking room, but doesn't feel formal.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                -----
                O Ya
                9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                3 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Agreed that it is not a sushi restaurant, but it is very good. Maybe sashimi and japanese small plates is an appropriate description? If the OP has ever been to an actual izakaya, O Ya's self description will be misleading. The misuse of foreign restaurant terms is endemic in Boston and beyond. As has been commented before, (e.g. Bistro du Midi is NOT a bistro, Coppa is NOT an enoteca (except for the rare slow lunch service), O Ya is NOT a izakaya). None of them are even close to the authentic article, despite being excellent dining establishments in their own right.

                  Oishii, Basho, Fugakyu (among others) also mislabel themselves as izakaya's, so in Boston (and the US) maybe izakaya does mean 'americanized sushi restaurant'.

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    I believe there are some rather higher-end izakayas in Japan, but their menus aren't likely to faintly resemble what O Ya is doing. I agree that this usage is in the same boat with most local usages of bistro, trattoria, and enoteca.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    -----
                    O Ya
                    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      If a restaurant in Japan aspired to be more than an izakaya, the first thing they would do is drop the izakaya label I would think. ;P

                      I'm lately annoyed with the many fusion chinese-run "shabu shabu" joints that don't really resemble shabu shabu at all.

                2. I am probably in the minority, but I guess for the price I was expecting a bit more. O Ya is unique, different, cool but overpriced and overrated at the same time. I perceive a lack of seasonality and an almost assembly-line like quality to the offerings. Should you go? Definitely - but I can't remember the taste of a single thing I had at O Ya, while the quality of the sushi at Toraya still sticks out in my memory. And I was *sated* at Toraya without being stuffed - not so much from O Ya.

                  -----
                  O Ya
                  9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                  Toraya Restaurant
                  890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Out of curiosity...what "blows you away" in Boston?

                    2. re: Bob Dobalina

                      I like O Ya a lot, but the price prevents me from making a habit of it: it's hard to call it a great value. I think Toraya is among the best traditional sushi places in Greater Boston, with the idiosyncrasy and unique-each-time experience of a truly itamae-driven venue. O Ya sacrifices that idiosyncrasy for a certain consistency and need to serve more than a handful of bar seats. But I still think some dishes are plenty memorable, and I have always ordered in such a way to leave feeling happy but not logy, generally with their faux-omakase capped at about $100, no Wagyu.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      -----
                      O Ya
                      9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                      Toraya Restaurant
                      890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                    3. Having lived in Japan for 7 years and been travelling regularly there for well over 23 years I think I can speak with reasonable accuracy about izakayas. O-Ya would qualify as a high-end izakaya but in my mind it is more near what are known as ryoteis. Ryoteis are very high end restaurants that focus on serving only the best seasonal indgredients artfully prepared and presented usually on dinnerware chosen to match the particular dish. Most meals are multi course affairs that cover most of the most common Japanese cooking styles. So there would be a sashimi course, a steamed course, a tempura course, a grilled course, etc. Dinner at a famous ryotei is truely an experience a foodie passionate about Japanese food would never forget.. I have always enjoyed O-Ya and would probably go more often if my budget could afford it but I also agree with the other posters about Toraya although my personal favorite tends more towards Sushi Island in Wakefield. I enjoy Toraya because I always feel like I am really back in Tokyo. The size of the place and, as someone said, the itamae-san driven menu is very authentic. Izakayas in Japan run the gamut from very inexpensive down and dirty places that are primarily drinking spots for the locals to very high-end places that serve excellent traditional and seasonal specialties. I have never found a restaurant in Boston that I would say is a true izakaya.

                      -----
                      Toraya Restaurant
                      890 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: RoyRon

                        I don't know from ryotei and learned good stuff from your post. Although - how is this a ryotei when the ingredients seem not to change with season?

                        and re: earlier in thread,
                        "fauxmakase" - awesome. Plus, say it quickly and you include molecular gastronomy.

                        1. re: enhF94

                          I feel O-Ya is more like a ryotei only because they serve very high quality indgredients in very inventive ways. They do miss the seasonal aspects that a ryotei in Japan would have but overall I have always enjoyed the dinners I have had there. They also do a few little things that are reminiscent of Japan like when you order sake they present you with a box of different sake cups and let you choose the one you like. It is a small thing but is something I had only seen done in Japan. Also, I always enjoy talking with Nancy Cushman about sake.

                          1. re: RoyRon

                            In my experience, dishes at O Ya change slightly with the seasons, especially with seafood. For instance: that beautiful Nantucket bay scallops dish with coconut milk and lime, and the one with Maine sweet shrimp that I can't recall exactly right now. Not that a few examples here and there disprove anything being said in this thread.

                            That said, when you're spending big $$ to import certain species of fish and other ingredients from around the world, locavorism and seasonality becomes less of an ingredient-quality concern than they might be otherwise—in other words, it's Thai basil season *somewhere*. There's really no difference (other than carbon footprint) between grabbing something from the local farmstand and having it overnighted from the other side of the world, in terms of quality. You just get into trouble when farming practices have been designed around ensuring something is durable enough to last through a prolonged distribution cycle (insipid asparagus, pre-ripened tomatoes, etc.).

                            -----
                            O Ya
                            9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                            1. re: RoyRon

                              I have had the option of my own sake glass at Kai. It was one of those life is short meals, about a year before they closed their doors. I still like to browse those pictures.

                          2. re: RoyRon

                            Have you tried Shiki in Brookline? I would say Shiki is pretty much an izakaya.

                            -----
                            Shiki
                            9 Babcock Street, Brookline, MA 02446