My Most Extravagant Meal
… was composed of 22 courses, eaten in 5+ hours.
It included caviar and foie gras and different kinds of truffles.
I had the best steak of my life.
And I ate a gold leaf.
At a Japanese restaurant.
Last week, I had the immense pleasure of eating at o ya again. It was the most extravagant meal I’ve ever had, very luxurious and decadent. My friends and I oohed and aahed at the different courses, marveled at each beautiful dish, closed our eyes as we savored each bite, each texture, each miniscule drop of intense flavor.
It was pure bliss.
When I went to o ya for the first time last year, I had the 16-course omakase then and declared o ya as one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. This time, we had the grand omakase: a 22-course feast (each course being one piece of sushi).
Here is a photo journey:
The first course was actually supposed to be a kumamoto oyster with watermelon pearls and cucumber mignonette, but I’ve alerted the o ya staff that I am allergic to oysters (and fish sauce) so some of my courses were customized and thus I had some different bites from my dining companions.
Last year, I picked my top three favorites and this hamachi was one of them. For this grand omakase post, I am marking my top five favorite dishes. I am aware that not everyone can afford (nor even want to have) a very, VERY expensive meal, but I do think that o ya is one of the best restaurants in Boston, so if you can go – even if you’re not having the tasting menu – I am recommending some incredible dishes marked as my favorites.
This was a “special” course for me, in lieu of the fried kumamoto oyster. Let’s just say that’ I’ve never been happier to have an oyster allergy at this point. I only discovered langoustines this year and this langoustine tempura was sublime. It was the spicy sauce that sealed the deal, and my friend Alyssa, who is the manager at o ya, said that there are so many components and steps that go into making this sauce.
I wanted to lick the plate clean, I really did. (But I did not.)
I got this instead of the salmon with Vietnamese dashi caramel and spicy rau ram salsa that was on the menu that night. Again, I think I lucked out, because if I had to choose between salmon and wagyu, I would definitely pick the wagyu.
Wagyu refers to a kind of meat with intense marbling. According to wikipedia, “The meat from wagyū cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, increased eating quality through a naturally enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness, and thus a high market value.” There are different breeding techniques all over the world to achieve the increased marbling and incredibly tender meat. For instance in Japan, the wagyu cattle are massaged (yup), and fed beer or sake.
The piece of house smoked wagyu was indeed tender and meaty, but this was NOT the best steak of my life that I referred to earlier. (Besides, I’ll need more than one bite to give that title away.)
I have to admit that I did not like this at all (in fact, I even gave the rest of mine away). It was a little too fishy/cold/sweet for me. This was supposed to be a palate cleanser, but I prefer to cleanse my palate with something like this:
I really like foie gras, but I wasn’t a big fan of this version. It looks powdery but the texture was similar to mousse, and I the yuzu was a little too salty for me. I did like the tempura flakes at the bottom though. Oh well, I guess there was bound to be some misses in a 22-course dinner…
From my o ya review last year, I quoted my favorite food writer Frank Bruni talking about this dish. (And if you go back to that review, you’ll see a big improvement in my photography skills hehe). His observations are spot-on.
In the “Sliced” episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network, Frank Bruni chose this dish. And in his NY Times review review, he reveals:
“At the risk of putting my credentials as a carnivore in doubt, I must say that the best dish on the menu — maybe the best dish of my entire journey — came from the menu’s vegetable category. Called “grilled sashimi of chanterelle and shiitake,” it seemed to me to settle any and all debate over umami, which has to exist if only to explain why these thinly sliced mushrooms, brushed with soy sauce and a rosemary garlic oil, have such a full, magnificent taste. Sesame gets some credit. In fact sesame gets a lot of credit, contributing to both a froth of porcini and milk that covers the so-called sashimi and to a brittle that’s sprinkled on the froth.”
I’m hesitant to admit that my favorite dish at a Japanese restaurant known for its sushi is steak, but it was true the first time, and it’s still true for this meal. The seared strip loin of wagyu was so incredibly tender and cooked to perfection. I loved the potato slices, the salty crust, the touch of trufle oil. Hands down, this was the best steak I’ve ever had.
The grand omakase is something worthy of very special occasions, and this time the occasion was celebrating the hard work put into Tasted Menu (if you want an early invite to the website that is just about to launch next month, you can use the word “bianca” as your invite code) as I was dining with Tasted Menu’s CEO and founder Alex Rosenfeld and the website’s top contributors: me and my friends/fellow bloggers Daisy and Rachel.
We had a wonderful time and this is certainly one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. Was it too much? Certainly. And there were a few courses that I wasn’t exactly exuberant about. I also am not going to lie, but I wish there were a couple of dessert bites at the end. I mean, sure the chevre and the foie gras with chocolate can be considered dessert, but nori isn’t something I want to end a meal with, and I would’ve preferred a hunk of chocolate. But that’s just me. However, the grand omakase is such a stunning, marvelous, one of a kind experience, and it’s something that I would remember for the rest of my life.
If you are in the Boston area and willing to drop some serious $$, I highly recommend the omakase at o ya for a special occasion dinner. And even if you’re not doing the grand tasting, I still urge you to try my favorites: hamachi with spicy banana pepper mousse, langoustine tempura with spicy sauce, bluefin toro tartare, the “faberge” egg, and of course – the seared petit strip loin of wagyu.
If you could have one extremely extravagant meal anywhere in the world, what would it be?