O Ya

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83 Very Good

This outpost of Boston’s beloved, pricey omakase-style restaurant brings boom-time bluefin to Gramercy’s Park South Hotel.

120 E. 28th St., New York, NY, 10016



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The lowdown

The room lacks the intimacy of a great sushi bar, it’s true, but if you don’t feel like groveling for a seat at one of the city’s stuffy omakase palaces, this spacious Boston import will do just fine. The vibe is refreshingly relaxed, getting a seat at the bar doesn’t involve a monthlong wait, and the well-trained team of chefs can twirl up just about anything your heart desires — from glimmering Edo-style slips of kohada shad, to soft pats of freshwater eel flavored with a modish cutting of Thai basil, to addictive vegetable-sushi creations constructed with Italian summer truffles and a single, carefully fried fingerling-potato chip. There are only two options on the menu (18 courses or the 24-piece Big Apple extravaganza), both of which seem to be priced to New York’s last, prerecessionary bull market instead of this one. The proceedings have a rather impersonal, hotel-restaurant feel (O Ya sits off the lobby of a small, nondescript establishment called the Park South Hotel). It’s worth it. Enjoy a slip of yellowtail topped with uni harvested not from the usual sea-urchin farms out in Santa Barbara, but by hand from the seaweed-rich shores of southern Hokkaido. It’s become fashionable in haute sushi circles to cultivate a more chaste, locally grown style, but O Ya belongs to the school of experimental fusion masters. Like at Gari, the sushi here is gently burnt with blowtorches, shaped into toppling little towers, and layered with all sorts of elaborate flavor enhancers (pay attention to the black-olive purée on the excellent silver kohada, and to a strangely artful substance called “Wagyu schmaltz”). Like at Masa, no expense is spared flying in the most sought-after ingredients from around the globe, and dinner reaches its predictable peak with those ancient high-roller signifiers, Wagyu beef and seared foie gras (the Wagyu in question is so good you want to order it twice—it’s cut in sashimi-size lozenges and served over a scrim of potato confit—and the foie gras finale was dripped with a reduction of balsamic vinegar, sake, and chocolate that tasted much more interesting than the strange buckwheat-and-berry dessert). One day in the not-so-distant future, the sushi-omakase boom will come to its inevitable end, and if you have a prosperous uncle who’s visiting the city and don’t feel like groveling for a spot at the more cultish sushi parlors around town, you could do worse.

Adam Platt

What you need to know

DrinksSake/Soju, Beer and Wine

Noise LevelHushed