This blog post is very special to me because it marks the end of an era. I chose to go to O Ya as my last fancy meal in NYC. It’s a new omakase only Japanese restaurant that opened in NYC a few months ago. And, it’s only 2 blocks away from my apartment. It was meant to be, and as it turns out, it’s my favorite meal of the year.
If you’ve been a long time reader of this blog, then you know that I started becoming really sushi-obsessed just a little over two years ago. Before that, the sight of this would have made me a little bit nervous:
But now I’m staring at my laptop, ready to lick the screen. Seriously, it’s like uni uni uni uni, ADIDAU – All Day I Dream About Uni. Ready to eat this all by myself.
To be completely honest, prior to this obsession with sushi, I just didn’t understand why fish on top of rice costed so much. If I were to pay an arm and a leg for dinner, I should have an army of chefs cooking my food right? Ummm, wrong.
I didn’t appreciate the skill and precision that went into a flawless omakase dinner until I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi and had my first true omakase experience at Sushi Nakazawa. It really opened my eyes and got me hooked. So it’s no wonder that I wanted sushi as my last fancy meal as a Manhattanite.
We chose O Ya for my last meal for several reasons. As I mentioned, O Ya opened just a few blocks away from my apartment, so I saw it every day on my way to work and it creeped into my subconscious.
I was hesitant to go when I found out that O Ya’s claim to fame is that it’s the best sushi place in Boston…I mean, what does Bahhston know about sushi right? But then my most trusted NYC foodie Amanda ate here for her birthday and said to me, “Top 5 meals in NYC.”….I knew I had to take a second look. I mean… that’s a bold statement coming from the queen of good eats.
The final cherry on top that makes this meal perfect for me was that their omakase was called Okii Ringo, which is Japanese for Big Apple.
Finally convinced that this was all meant to be, I gathered a few friends and booked a reservation for 6 people on my last Saturday night in NYC. O Ya is still super new to the city so no one is in on the secret that this is one of the best meals around. So lucky for me, I was able to easily get a reservation for exactly when I wanted. As it turns out, they don’t commonly serve groups of 6 since it’s a more intimate omakase experience, but they made it work for us.
I won’t talk too much more about the meal, except that if you’re looking for your traditional omakase, this isn’t it. O Ya is opened by Tim and Nancy Cushman who are ruling the restaurant world making fusion sushi and trying other non-Japanese concepts.
The omakase itself is fusion sushi at its best: I’m talking Fingerling Potato Chip and Winter Truffle Nigiri and Ocean Trout with Tomato Confit, Smoked Salt and Onion Aioli. The first is combination that Tim came up with late at night (read: he was likely drunk), and the second is meant to remind you of a smoked salmon bagel. To add to the untraditional ambiance, they’re playing old school 90’s hip hop in the background. As if I wasn’t already dancing from joy because of the sushi, our entire group was really feelin’ the music and sake.
So here’s the play by play of my favorite meal out of my 60-Day Bye Bye NYC Bucket List and just the standout of the year.
*Side note: I wish I was served 3 pieces of everything like these pictures indicate, but it’s 1 piece per person. Also we couldn’t sit at the chef’s counter since we were a party of 6.
**Side note #2: Nerdy food photography sadness- for some reason I left my ISO at 30000+ for the first few courses so the pictures are so noisey. Also finally decided that I should get a white balancing card to make the colors of my pics more uniform.
KUMAMOTO OYSTER, ponzu watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette
FOIE SPOON, miso, preserved meyer lemon
Served with Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Sake which paired amazingly with this foie, it helped bring out the lemony flavor. A+
This marks the first half of this 24-course omakase… onto the sashimi and hot dishes…
SHIMA AJI & HOKKAIDO SEA URCHIN, aji amarillo vinaigrette, nigella
SUZUKI SEA BASS, spicy cucumber vinaigrette, coriander
I just really loved all the plating in these courses!
SHISO TEMPURA WITH GRILLED LOBSTER, charred tomato, ponzu aioli
Missed the previous dish which was a Sip of tomato shiso kombu water (both were great!)
PETITE FOURS – felt “meh” compared to the rest of the meal
Thank you O Ya for an amazing and memorable NYC dinner, the food and service was just impeccable. And of course a big thanks and a miss you guys to our main NOM NOM NYC crew, so happy we were able to share this epic meal with our favorite people ❤.