O ya Boston – Thousand Dollar O NO

O Ya is a highly acclaimed modern Japanese restaurant in Boston.  They now have locations in NYC and Mexico.

The price for the “Grand Omakase” is a whopping $385 per person ($285 without the white truffles).  This makes it one of the most expensive tasting menus I have ever seen without Michelin Stars.

I had high expectations.  Here was the menu:

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From my experience, entering a restaurant of this caliber is usually like entering into a place of worship.  You feel like you are entering a special place with reverence shown to the surroundings and the chefs.  You prepare yourself for a meal where the ingredients will be respected.  This place invoked none of that.  It felt like walking into a loud lounge or “scene” restaurant.

We were sat at the bar as requested.  I expected an omakase experience where the chefs would talk to you and get to know you, and adjust the meal accordingly.  There was none of that.  No greeting, and no words exchanged.  In fact, throughout the night, the three chefs behind the bar, and I probably said between 10-20 words to each other.

The first dish presented were the Kumamoto Oysters.  The dish was beautifully presented as were most dishes that night.  This dish was pretty good.

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The next few dishes were nigiris and for the most part – disappointing.  I have no problems with “modern” nigiri.  For example, Sushi Zo in NYC or Miku in Vancouver do a good job.  However, this place lacked any sort of umami wow factor.  They were average bites.   The ingredients were exotic, expensive and high quality, like abalone and caviar, but the dishes lacked  delicate refinement of Japanese cuisine.  Many times sauces overpowered the beautiful ingredients.

Spanish Mackerel

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Hokkaido Uni, Osetra Caviar, Italian White Truffle.  This SHOULD of been mind blowing.  It wasn’t.  The uni was good, but I could not taste anything else.  The white truffles, lacked any sort of pungent flavor I was expecting.  Very disappointing.

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Kin Madai

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Kohada Japanese Baby Mackerel.  Usually watching sushi chefs work is a treat.  In this place, it was more like a production line.  Many times when dishes were put on the pass, the toppings of the nigiri would fall off or the pieces themselves would topple over.  Many omakase chefs are adamant that you eat nigiri pieces right away because they have been prepared at the perfect temperature for example, this place had none of that attention to detail.

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Cuttlefish

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Chutoro & Caviar.  This is another dish which sounds and looks mind blowing on paper.  It was another disappointment.  The aged soy completely overpowered all the other flavors.

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Kyoto Mushrooms.  Again, I could not taste the truffles.

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Foie Gras

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The next few dishes shifted the meal towards more plated food. Kanpachi.

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Kona Abalone

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Shima Aji & Uni.  The sauce overpowered the other flavors.

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The next dish was a gift of the chef.  He is known for this.  Fried oyster nigiri with squid ink foam.  Disappointing also.  The sushi rice needs work.

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The next four dishes were largely disappointing.  Again, the sauces overpowered the amazing ingredients.  Starting with the king salmon.

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Bluefin chutoro.  The fact that this chutoro was messed up by the sauce is a shame.

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same with this Bluefin toro

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…and what might be the most beautifully presented dish of the night….King Crab

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The next two dishes WERE decent.  The Italian white truffle ramen was pretty good, but again, the truffle could be stronger.  However, this time I could actually taste it.

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The next dish might of been my favorite – Faberge Onsen Egg

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A5 Wagyu with truffle.  Not bad, again, weak truffle.

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The final savory dish was a foie gras nigiri.  One of the best things I have ever put in my mouth is the foie gras nigiri from Tetsu in Vancouver.  This is my benchmark for foie gras nigiri.  If Tetsu is an 11, this was a 5 or 6.  Go try both and see for yourself.

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The meal ended with something sweet, some chocolates, and aged sake.  I think the desserts in this place are an after thought.

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Overall service was just ok.  They were busy and had some sort of VIP table which got special attention.  Also, the servers pick up each dish and bring it to you.  even the nigiri which makes more sense for the sushi chef to hand to you directly.

I asked for ginger and it was a disaster.  They had none behind the bar.  What sushi restaurant doesn’t have ginger?  After a few minutes, someone brought me some that they “had to get from downstairs”.

Maybe standing on its own in Boston, this might be an amazing meal.  However, when you take into consideration the price, and what you can get elsewhere on a global scale, this place is disappointing.  For example, as mentioned above, Sushi Zo Hanare in NYC will serve you a meal that is mind blowing and you will spend way less.  You will not have to worry about service either.  Its intimate with lots of interaction from the chefs.  The price for 2 with sake was over $1,000.  I usually do not comment on price in my reviews because I feel that a meal includes art, entertainment, pleasure etc, which are hard to quantify.    However, I will comment when I feel the price is not worth it or conversely, if you are getting a great deal.  Would not return.  6.5/10

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