O Ya: Not Your Average Sushi

O Ya is one of those “hot” restaurants in NYC right now, and they have good reason to be. Their original restaurant is in Boston, and they recently opened up a NYC location just a few months ago, bringing their unorthodox Japanese omakase menus with them. Despite the popularity and well-received reviews, it wasn’t hard for me and David to get a reservation about three weeks out – you can either book on OpenTable, or if you want a seat at the counter (which I recommend), you can call the restaurant directly.

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The interior of O Ya has all the makings of a standard high-end sushi place: warm brick walls and wooden everything else (even the restaurant facade is made of wood paneling), minimalistic flower arrangements in window boxes on the walls, and overall a very modern zen feel. They have some fun quirks, however, such as the cute chopstick holders ranging from sumo wrestlers (mine!) to bunnies, and a very eclectic music playlist. I swear the music varied from Italian restaurant music (y’know, the kind with accordions) to a James Bond theme song at one point.

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My adorable sumo wrestler chopstick holder!

The food was just as whimsical as some of their music. Unlike many other sushi places who focus on just the fish, O Ya emphasizes creative combinations of ingredients, often using Western ingredients such as truffles or aioli. You can choose between two omakase menus, and they are both pretty pricy – the more inexpensive one is 18 courses for $185 (which is the one David and I got), but if you want to splurge, you can get the 24-course menu for $245. And if you REALLY want to go all out, you can add sake pairings and the like. David did a sake pairing for an extra $90, which included about 4-5 different types of sake throughout the course of dinner.

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Sake

The rest of this post will mostly just be a photo recap, since there were so many courses—

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Kumamoto oyster (ponzu watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette)

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Hamachi (banana pepper mousse)

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Ocean trout tataki (tomato confit, smoked salt, onion aioli). I also just want to add that I am in love with this plate – one of the chefs behind the counter told us that a lot of their dishes are handmade in Germany!

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Warm eel (Thai basil, kabayaki, kyoto sansho)

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Housemade fingerling potato chip (summer truffle), aka the strangest nigiri I’ve ever had. Apparently it started when the chef put a potato chip on a bed of rice as a joke, and then it evolved into this.

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Wild spot prawn (ramp butter, yuzu tobiko, preserved meyer lemon)

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Garlic chive blossom omelette (sweet dashi, wagyu schmaltz), their take on the traditional tamago. This was one of my favorites.

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Fried kumamoto oyster (yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles). Another one of my favorites, in both taste and presentation.

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Bluefin toro (fresh wasabi, green onion)

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Shima aji & Hokkaido sea urchin (aji amarillo vinaigrette, nigella)

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Kinmedai (white soy, myoga, lemon oil)

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Kanpachi (Vietnamese mignonette, fried shallots, Thai basil)

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Bluefin tuna tataki (smoky pickled onions, summer truffle). We watched the chef in front of us torch all the onions for this dish.

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Grilled chanterelle & shiitake mushroom (rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth)

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Shiso tempura with grilled lobster (charred tomato, ponzu aioli)

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Seared wagyu A5 petit strip loin (potato confit, sea salt). A twist on the classic steak and potatoes.

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Foie gras (balsamic chocolate kabayaki, Claudio Corallo raisin cocoa pulp, sip of aged sake)

The foie gras pictured above came with a sip of aged sake, which the server brought us a little shot glass for. If you’re like me and prefer not to drink, you can also get a non-alcoholic version that’s created with a similar flavor profile as the actual sake. Our server gave me both the non-alcoholic one plus a tiny sip of the real deal.

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Non-alcoholic version (left) and aged sake (right)

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Dark chocolate ganache (genmaicha ice cream, blackberries)

Overall the pacing of the meal was quite fast; 18 courses only took us about an hour and a half. David could barely keep up with his different sake glasses (see below for what his place setting looked like halfway through the meal lol). Our server was awesome – she was super friendly, and at one point despite mistakenly giving David a wine glass (even though he had only ordered sake), she gave him a taste of the red wine she was holding anyway.

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On our way out, they even gave us these goldfish-shaped gummies! Which I proceeded to devour the moment I got home.

Bottom line: Dinner at O Ya definitely does not come cheap, but it’s worth it for its fun and creative take on sushi.

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O Ya
120 E 28th St
New York, NY 10016
o-ya.restaurant/o-ya-nyc

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