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Nigiri Pete Doesn't Like the 'Clunky Rice' at O Ya

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The Times critic files on one of the year's biggest new sushi restaurants.

[The dining room at O Ya]
[The dining room at O Ya]
Daniel Krieger

Pete Wells likes a lot of the courses that Tim Cushman and his crew are serving at pricey sushi newcomer O Ya on East 28th Street. The critic even notes: "His one-bite dishes unwind into spools of flavor that you don’t quite see coming, even though a server has already told you what you’re about to eat." But Wells finds that the restaurant has some flaws. Including one big one:

When it comes to sushi fundamentals, O Ya’s rule-breaking returns to haunt it. The rice, which should be warm and fragrant with vinegar, was usually cold and underseasoned. In some pieces, like the fried oyster, this bland rice was densely packed into a drum inside nori. (Traditionally, this would be done by gently wrapping seaweed around a loose ball of rice, but O Ya seems to roll it into a tight cigar.) Bites that began wonderfully would end with a thud. And there were small imperfections, such as the big white scale stuck to one piece of fish or the stringy sinews in a piece of tuna belly, that would cause a minor scandal at a traditional sushi bar charging these prices.

Clunky rice was one reason I cheered silently each time the meal marched into the sashimi movement.

Pete also points out that an oyster was "overbattered and overcooked," and the Wagyu beef in one course tasted "greasy." Over the course of his meals, Wells also got tired of the parade of "fish covered with more stuff and a sauce or two." One star.

For a different take on O Ya, check out Ryan Sutton's two star review from earlier this year.

o ya

120 East 28th Street, Manhattan, NY 10016 (212) 204-0200 Visit Website