Editors' Picks

o ya

9 E St, Boston, MA 02111, USA

+1 617-654-9900

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This contemporary Japanese eatery combines inventive cooking with a groovy, speakeasy atmosphere—a blend so seductive that former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni once named it the best new restaurant in the country. Located on a desolate street near Boston’s train station, the entrance is tucked away on a gritty, cobblestone alley. Swing the unmarked wooden door open though, and the scene beckons. The building, a century-old firehouse, has a Japanese tavern meets SoHo loft feel, with soaring ceilings and shoji screens.

As fantastic as the atmosphere is, the food is the true star. Each day, chef Tim Cushman tweaks his menu of seventy-plus dishes to reflect what’s fresh and seasonal. Inventive combinations such as a hamachi sashimi with a spicy banana pepper mousse perfectly balance the freshness of the fish (most is flown in daily from Japan) with a kicky, unexpected condiment. The salmon belly, seared with a drizzle of hot sesame oil, has a buttery texture rarely found in American sushi joints. The most fantastic combo, however, is a fried kumamoto oyster with a yuzu kosho aioli settled on a small bed of rice and topped with briny squid ink bubbles–one of the more fantastic bites of food I’ve had in my life. Luckily, the dishes are small, so diners can relish the raw offerings and still have room left to try clever cooked dishes like foie gras gyoza, sake braised short ribs and shiso tempura with grilled lobster and charred tomatoes.

Nancy Cushman, co-owner and sake sommelier, reigns over her own list of twenty-some sakes and can suggest pairings with any of the offerings from her husband’s kitchen. (A well-edited wine and beer menu is also available.) Servers are friendly and well informed, happy to help a novice navigate the overwhelming amount of choices. Plan accordingly and arrive with an advance reservation, an empty stomach and good directions (and that’s the same advice that I give to friends visiting my favorite restaurant in Tokyo.)

Written by Henley Vazquez

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