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O Ya

PHOTOS: Noah Devereaux

Do you love sushi? Are you rich? If you answered yes to both of those questions, pay attention. If you're pretty normal as it pertains to cash money, but enjoy a splurge on fancy fish every once in a while, then bank this info for future celebrations. If neither of those situations pertains to you, feel free to stop reading now.

O Ya is a Boston import, and its chef is known for being about as good of a fish slicer, dicer, and blowtorcher as you can find, so it's no surprise that O Ya is serving highly intricate, next-level raw fish.

The sushi here is not traditional or simple - it's pretty different from even the more modern sushi places you'll find in New York. Along with your toro and salmon, you'll eat things like hamachi topped with banana pepper, and even some chicken skin nigiri. Speaking about the food alone, this is sushi that easily competes with the best of New York City conversation.

And there's more good news. For one, you can pretty much get a table at O Ya whenever you want. So, if you need a sushi celebration in a pinch, or your boss is demanding a last-minute reservation at Nakazawa (which obviously won't happen), you now know your backup plan. O Ya also abandoned the tasting-menu-only model it opened with, so now it’s a bit more approachable, if you're interested in a smaller meal. The a la carte setup means that posting up at the bar to eat as many of their absurdly good tea-brined fried pork ribs as your wallet can endure is suddenly an option. However, if you really want to experience O Ya properly, the $185 omakase will always be the way to go.

Unfortunately, there's also some bad news: O Ya's poor location in a random Murray Hill hotel and impossible price point make it a tough destination to fully back. While we're into luxury fish in a low-key setting, when you're shelling out at minimum $200 a head, it feels like something is missing from the experience. Maybe it's the fact that a lot of the dishes are cooked in the back, out of sight, or the fact that the sushi bar feels a little sterile.

We don’t need a spectacle, but for that kind of money, we do want to feel special. The food is great, but O Ya is missing that personal touch that inspires return visits. It's missing the magic.

If we were rich, O Ya might be in our regular rotation. Unfortunately, we’re not (yet!), and we'd way rather spend half as much money at a place like Kura or Tanoshi.

Food Rundown

Hamachi with Banana Pepper

Make sure this one is coming your way. One of our favorite O Ya bites. Blow-torched hamachi spicy enough to light your lips on fire.

Bluefin Chutoro Nigiri

Quite the fancy piece of tuna.

Warm Eel Nigiri

There's nothing much better than buttery eel on perfectly moist, perfectly vinegared sushi rice.

KariKari Crispy Sesame Chicken Skin Nigiri

A thin layer of crunchy skin over rice with pickled ginger and a bunch of foamy things that we couldn’t quite identify by look or taste. We enjoyed, though.

Kumamoto Oyster

One of O Ya’s signature “dishes” - a small, briney west coast oyster over ice with “watermelon pearls” and a super refreshing cucumber mignonette. Worth $7 per oyster? Probably not. But when dining at O Ya, these need to be part of your meal.

King Salmon Belly Sashimi

You can see distinct white lines in the orange belly blubber, which means you already know this is going to be good.

Kanpachi Sashimi

One of the best things at O Ya. They have mastered the sweet and spicy raw fish combinations.

Tea Brined Pork Fried Ribs

The star of the show at O Ya may be the raw fish, but the single best bite may actually be a rib. These tea brined fried pork ribs are incredible. They’re lightly fried, with a delicate yet crunchy outside layer, but they also have a short-rib texture underneath, and meat that’s falling off the bone. O YA VERY MUCH.

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