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It was brought to my attention that I may have come across as pretentious and obnoxious last week in my "Making Fun of Times Dining" post. And although I feel that the NY Times editorial staff needs to be called out once in a while, simply for the fact that it has so much POWER in the dining community, it was not my intention to be overly snarky, so I'll work on my delivery.

Today, I will be nice- our precious Pete Meehan is still hanging out in these venerable pages, with an ode to ramen, no less (LOVE YOU PETE!). It's taking a lot of restraint not to comment on Bruni's "casual favorites" article, but I'll zip it (Bruni's "frustration" response here. Not a peep from me!).

Here's a special review for you. A month ago, Bruni named a small Boston restaurant, O Ya, #1 in his top 10 new restaurants outside NY. I was at a work party when Larry Kardish, Senior Film Curator of MoMA, mentioned that he booked a spot for himself there after reading his review. See, now that's the power of Bruni. I was curious to hear about the meal from someone I actually know, and asked Larry for thoughts on his experience. Here's what he had to say about O Ya.

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Dear Kayoko:

Indeed, I had a superior meal at O Ya - the portions are little more than appetizer size, fresh and very well prepared, often with a subtle ix of flavors. The dishes run from $8.00 to $28.00 and you can order how many and in whatever sequence you wish. The wait staff is very friendly.


The restaurant is small, with many seats at the "sushi" bar - not too many tables. I sat at the bar and I called the day before from New York to make a reservation and got an answering machine and was called back in New York to say that I could have a seat at the bar at 9:00 p.m.the next night which was perfect for me because my lecture at the ICA finished at eight. The restaurant is right behind South Street Station (main railroad terminal), and I was able to walk to O Ya from the ICA (but needed a map because the street that it is on is small).

I ordered (if I remember correctly five dishes) - warm eel nigiri with thai basil, grilled sashimi of of chanterelle and shitaki mushrooms, sake braised short ribs, chilled cappellini noodles with charred lobster sashimi, and chicken broth with foie gras shumai - and liked them all. I also ordered (a mistake but I was intrigued) a small bottle of sparking sake, but it was too sweet for my taste.

The restaurant was low key and perhaps a bit funky but very comfortable and welcoming. The kitchen was exposed and there were many chefs behind the counter. I was impressed by the number of staff and the careful preparation of each dish - but for all the staff-to-customer ratio I never felt "rushed" or "crowded". Everyone, the couples at the table and at the bar seemed to be having a good time. I was the only solo person there but never felt awkward. I would say it was Asian inflected but probably particular to the restaurant. In serving portions and choice and friendliness of service it did remind me favorably of Nobu.

The meal with the sparkling sake and tax and tip came to $120.00 - not bad by New York standards for a superior meal.

I can't say the restaurant deserves a #1 spot simply because I don't travel enough around the US, but I think it ranks with some of the best. I would definitely return there with friends, and have already recommended it to people I like. And yes, I was hungry a little when I left because i did not want to over indulge with such special food. I always like to leave a good meal with a little pang.



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Larry is just as much of a tastemaker for film-going as Bruni is for eating, introducing this city to the world's best cinema since 1968. I am always skeptical of reviews- the Times, Yelp or otherwise, but if Larry agrees with Bruni here, well I suppose I just need to can it (at least this week).

Thank you Larry for a great testimonial! You can take me to O Ya anytime!

For more on Mr. Laurence Kardish, here's an interview on Gothamist from 2005.

O Ya
9 East Street
Boston
T: 617.654.9900
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1 comment

  • i almost went to oya recently but was deterred after consultation with a friend (transcript follows):


    Mariana Mogilevich wrote:
    > hey max—what was the name/deal with that sushi place near south station that looks very designy and i seem to remember you said was very good? is that o ya? is it worth it? sorry for the retarded question

    The response:
    o ya is delicious but the portions are quite small and the prices are sky-high. the composition is definitely above par, as is the sake list. in short:

    food: yay
    prices: boo
    service: fine
    clientele: debating S&P vs. morningstar rating systems

    xo m

    mariana on

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