Underwhelmed at o ya

The food is certainly art, and there were a couple of tasty plates, but overall I found the highly acclaimed (and priced) o ya to be a disappointment. I would say it was fine, and nothing more. Maybe it was an off night, maybe we were just tired, I just hate when I really look forward to a meal and end up feeling meh about it.

o ya is located in Boston’s Leather District, just outside South Station, and is in an old brick building. They have painted the beams to look like wood, and the inside is sleek, clean, and quite lovely.

o ya Boston image

Our reservation was at the 17 seat chef’s bar. I really enjoy watching food being prepared, and o ya’s chef’s were quite the scene to see. The kitchen and front cooking area were pristinely clean, and we got to see a lot of torching, slicing, and dicing.

o ya chefs bar

To start, I ordered a glass of Sorelle Bronca Prosecco, and my husband had Poochi Poochi Sparkling Sake, our first Sake experience. I didn’t care for it, but he loved it.

While we waited for our variety of dishes to come out, I couldn’t help but take photos of the food waiting for others on the bar. It was artfully prepared, and very photogenic. Tastespotting and Foodgawker, maybe you will like one of these? ;)

o ya

o ya

After peeking at everyone else’s food, we started on our own:

SALMON o ya mayonette, wasabi tobiko, shiso

This was a very bland little dish. The salmon was nicely fatty, but with that fat I would expect something spicy or acidic to contrast with it.


HAMACHI TARTARE ginger verjus sauce, spiced chile oil

The texture and quality of the fish was perfect, but I was hoping for a bit of spice with the chile oil. Instead, it was overwhelmingly salty.

o ya hamachi

SHRIMP TEMPURA bacon truffle emulsion, chive oil

This was definitely the star of the night. The truffle emulsion was delicious. You can never go wrong with truffles, and the tempura was light and crispy. A bowl of the shrimp tempura, please.

o ya shrimp


This was also a favorite. o ya does tempura very well.


CHICKEN YAKITORI celeriac puree, perigord black truffle

While the other dishes we had were, overall, nothing to write home about, it was the chicken that really turned the night. While we understand that it was Poulet Rouge, meant to have a pinkish hue, I doubt that the chicken was supposed to have a giant vein running through it. I am definitely off chicken for awhile. . .

To their credit, o ya took this off of our bill after explaining that many people are put off by the Poulet Rouge. I feel like this is something they should mention when it is ordered. To the untrained eye, it appeared to be nearly raw chicken. The peanut sauce was like any garden variety jarred sauce.

o ya chicken

I expected to and wanted to fall drooling at o ya’s door on my way out. Instead, we left a little hungry and unwilling to try anything else. I don’t like writing negative reviews, but I feel like we hyped up our visit to o ya so much, I couldn’t NOT write about it.

Have you ever had an experience that was the opposite of what you expected?

Don’t forget to enter The Secret Ingredient cookbook giveaway! And I have been without a Friday guest post for awhile. The Friday Foodie Feature doesn’t seem to wrangle up much interest, but I am still interested in sharing a weekly post from a blogger or reader!

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Tags: Food, o ya, prosecco, restaurant, sashimi, wine

  1. bonjourbruxelles’s avatar

    Terrific and honest review. Loved the chronicling of the dishes. I’ve been tempted by o ya many times but I’ve become so very suspect of Boston’s top-tier restaurants. They always seem to disappoint. Only Clio stood out as a remarkable experience, but barely.


  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food’s avatar

    It’s so disappointing when a restaurant that has been praised as much as O Ya has doesn’t meet the hype. Still curious to try it out… but for the price, I think there are some other Boston establishments I want to go to first. Looks like you were able to pin point all the problems you had with it, which is great… instead of just saying that you didn’t like it. A great post!


  3. Michelle’s avatar

    Aw, I’m so bummed that you didn’t have such a great experience. I hope my hype didn’t add to the disappointment. My secret confession – I am NOT a fan of Craigie on Main. Everyone loves it but I went and was so underwhelmed.


  4. brandi’s avatar

    Well, the food certainly looks beautiful! But I hate when you get excited for something and it doesn’t live up to what you imagined


  5. Daisy’s avatar

    I am so happy you shared this review. It wasn’t all negative, you were very polite about your underwhelming-ness ;) As someone who loves sushi and has also been wondering about all the o ya hype, I appreciate the honesty. The dishes sure look exquisite!


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I had a really great sushi experience when I went to the opening of Basho near Fenway. That will be my next sushi stop! :)


    2. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

      I’ve been wanting to go to O Ya for the longest time (still wanting, until now) and I think it helps to know about both positive and negative reviews. Thanks for sharing, and I hope you find a restaurant that will overwhelm you (in a good way of course) next time!


    3. Terrianne’s avatar

      Ouh! That chicken with the vein running through it sounds horrible. I’m a little ill just thinking about it.

      It’s too bad about the salmon being over-salted and otherwise pooly seasoned. “Fine” is definitely not the way anyone should leave a restaurant charging the prices it does.

      Legal Seafood, Copley, my most disappointing food experience to date. Everything tasted like it had been frozen for months or like it was sitting around in the kitchen all day and re-heated in the microwave. I just hate it when restaurants, even chains, clearly stop caring but still thrive on the repuation and name they built for themselves when they did.



    4. Leigha Montgomery’s avatar

      Great to read and underwhelmed review because they can’t all be good! I’ve been to a couple restaurants multiple times and would say that 1 out of every third visit was underwhelming. Give them another couple tries, if your pocketbook can handle it. Go with someone who frequents and order what they order…
      Regardless of whether we’re going out for a regular Monday night dinner or a special occasion, it’s always nice to have that “Best meal of your life” experience! I had one at Pura Vida tapas in Atlanta when I was first dating my now fiance, but have heard from others that they weren’t impressed at all. So, there’s alot that’s up to the taste and desire of the diner as well.
      Thanks for writing! I enjoy your blog!


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        Thanks so much for commenting!


      2. Corinne’s avatar

        oh nooooooo. i was following your tweets about this and you were SO excited. im soorrry it was a let down! veins in my chicken, NO thanks. EW! thank gosh the tempura was good, but really, what is fried and doesn’t taste delightful ya know?

        on a positive note, after every bad meal comes a good one! where to next? :)


      3. Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear’s avatar

        Wow, unique dishes. You go to eat in such interesting places and restaurants :)


      4. Elina’s avatar

        I’ve been DYING to go to o ya. I can’t believe you didn’t like it. I bet it was an off night (but of course still frustrating for you – the place is definitely known for its priciness too). Maybe I’ll report better news once we go one day. :)


      5. Shirley’s avatar

        I’ve wondered about the o ya hype. Looking at your photos it’s easy to see why you left hungry. :) Nicely presented, though foams always strike me as weird.


      6. Magic of Spice’s avatar

        Well it looks good, I guess that goes to show that looks are not everything even in food:( Great review though:)


      7. Ed’s avatar

        I love honest reviews of restaurants. With all the food bloggers in this world, you can’t take a day off in the kitchen! Great job!


      8. bunkycooks’s avatar

        We often have very disappointing meals ( we had one tonight). I could be totally chained in the kitchen cooking since what I cook at home is often better than many of the restaurants (and I am sure you feel the same way). BTW, we may be in Boston in August. It would be fun to get together!


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