9 East Street
Boston, MA 02111
Chef Tim Cushman
Dinner only Tuesday through Saturday
I adored Frank Bruni's sarcasm and writing style as much as I admired his taste in food-- until now. Whatever points he gained by recommending 15 East (one of my must-eat places whenever I am in New York), he lost it all with his crazy recommendation of O Ya. This place could only be described as the evil spawn of Nobu and Morimoto.
The three Asian sushi chefs behind the counter are trying to remain motivated among diners who would prefer to eat a deep fried spicy tuna hand roll with tempura flakes coated in truffle oil mayonnaise, as opposed to an actual fresh piece of fish. I saw a couple of regulars steal the tiny wooden spoons that Japanese restaurant provide for dishes like chawan mushi-- seriously people, go to a freakin kitchen store and BUY SOME!! In any event, I digress. My only point is when the dining audience is stupid, I guess one should not be surprised at the scariness coming out of the kitchen.
There is so much overmanipulation of every dish that any original flavor that any of the seafood might have had is extinguished to oblivion, leaving behind ill-conceived sauces and combinations that are too hideous to imagine. There is not enough toothpaste or Pepto in the world for me to be able to forget this meal quickly.
Especially since the sushi counter is a prominent (albeit mostly ignored by diners) part of the restaurant, I was flabbergasted to see my hamachi with julienned apples and jalapeno sauce (yes, it tasted exactly as good as good as it sounds-- shudder-- but it gets better) sit on the counter after the sushi chef had prepared it, have a server whisk it away, in the opposite direction from me into the HOT kitchen, and then I waited. And waited. And waited. And watched my server walk around the dining room (he wasn't slacking; he was quite busy), then go back to the kitchen, pick up my raw fish, which has been sitting in the warm kitchen this whole time, in all of its sauced glory, for a solid five minutes before it was returned to me, sitting at the counter. What kind of idiocy is that?
Even knowing that it is not the server's fault and that it is likely some management policy, I could not help but yell at him for how the restaurant was treating that poor fish. If there was a remote possibility of that original preparation tasting good, it was killed by the extra time sitting on the plate in the warm kitchen until the dish came back out and was presented to me at the counter, sitting six inches away from the chef who prepared it.
But even the rest of the fish that did not necessarily take a journey around the restaurant before being served were mostly mealy and awful, not to mention hideously overseasoned with things like spicy banana pepper mousse, something they call osetra caviar but tasted like oversalted paddlefish roe way past its prime, ceviche vinaigrette, cumin aioli, and sake sea urchin jus.
I had ordered the grand omakase and had to stop the bleeding two-thirds of the way into the meal. It was too painful. No ingredient or cook should be made to suffer like that. At least I could do something about it and walk out.