Oya, Boston. Best. Meal. Ever.

This past summer, I was in Boston for a conference and went to Oya with a good friend of mine and the best dining partner. It’s kind of our thing, we meet up in cool cities, bike around, and eat at fancy places. We opted for the 17 course omakase with a kobe beef supplement. Overall it came out to around $250 a person. This is the most I’ve ever spent on a meal but was it worth every dollar. It was just a stunning meal in every aspect. I got to try new flavors and new combinations of flavors. Let’s jump to it.

1) KUMAMOTO OYSTER watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette. I could down a dozen of these. So refreshing!

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2) HAMACHI spicy banana pepper mousse. There was a slight char on the hamachi which gave it a nice smoky flavor that went well with the banana peppers. 

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3) SALMON unfiltered wheat soy moroni. The wheat berries were really interesting! I normally don’t like salmon (raw and cooked) but this was really great. In another post, at Craigie’s, I also tried the best cooked salmon of my life. So this Boston trip made me a salmon fan.

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4) SANTA BARBARA SEA URCHIN blood orange, homemade soy.

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5) WARM EEL thai basil, kabayaki, fresh kyoto sansho. The basil and sweet eel combination was a little weird at first but the more I chewed, the more I “got it.” Very interesting.

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6) SCARLET SEA SCALLOP white soy yuzu sauce, yuzu tobiko. The scallop was dyed with beet juice and this dish was just visually very striking. I think the scallop may have been smoked or cooked as well, it had a firmer texture.

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7) HOMEMADE FINGERLING POTATO CHIP perigord truffle. This was the first time I’ve had truffle and the smell and taste was just intoxicating. WOW. Really interesting and a little bit goes a long way. 

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8) FRIED KUMAMOTO OYSTER yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles. Our least favorite dish of the night. Fried oyster on rice. A little too much rice and I’m not a big fan of fried oysters. Fried clams yes but oysters I”ll take on the half shell any day.

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9) BLUEFIN CHUTORO republic of georgia herb sauce. This was really interesting, the herb sauce on top was crazy. Apparently, Republic of Georgia Herb sauce is a thing. Google it, make it, rub it on ALL the meats, grill it. Boom.

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10) MORELS garlic, soy. My second time trying morels. Did not disappoint. 

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11) ARCTIC CHAR yuzu cured, sesame brittle, cumin aioli, cilantro. The basket had smoke it in that came out when they took off the top. 

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12) SHIMA AJI & SANTA BARBARA SEA URCHIN ceviche vinaigrette, cilantro. More sea urchin! This dish was kind of hard to eat both the fish and sea urchin in one bite.

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13) SNAPPER ponzu, scallion, spicy daikon. One of my favorites of the night. The snapper was just so…for lack of a better word, snappy!

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14) VENISON TATAKI porcini crema, ponzu oil. Not super memorable. I’m not that big a fan of lean meat served rare.

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15) SHISO TEMPURA WITH GRILLED LOBSTER charred tomato, ponzu aioli. I’m not a big fan of lobster so to me this dish was a fried leak with a piece of lobster on top and a tomato. Nice charred flavors though, the grill did it’s work here.

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16) GRILLED SHIITAKE AND HEDGEHOG MUSHROOM SASHIMI rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, soy. I love mushrooms. Enough said.

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17) SEARED KOBE PETIT STRIP LOIN 2 oz., potato confit, sea salt, white truffle oil. First time trying kobe. The meat was just super rich. We shared a 2 oz portion and I could barely finish by 1 oz portion, which is the perfect serving for meat so rich. I’m really glad I got to try this. This and the truffle are one of those 2 luxurious food items that are hyped and with good reason. But they are not dishes I would eat once a month much less once a year, more for special occasions.

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18a) Desert.

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18b) Small treats. Keep me away from these, I could pop these in my mouth all day until I got fat.

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End. This is going to be one of those meals I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.

 

the best shrimp I ever had

I had to chance to try these shrimp from the Wedge Co-op in Uptown when I volunteered to make some food for a friend’s birthday party. The menu was teriyaki chicken and shrimp spring rolls. I hadn’t had time to go to grocery shopping so I went to the Co-op that was near their place and bought most of the groceries there. I remember the bill being excessive, something around the range of $60 for what would’ve ended up being around $20-30 at a traditional super market. I’ll say this though, these were the best damn chicken yakitori and spring rolls I’ve ever made and I attribute it all to the quality of ingredients I found at the co-op and would happily pay the premium once my budget allows for it.

The shrimps are a little on the small size if you are used to larger shelled shrimp, about half the size of a normal cocktail shrimp. They come de-shelled and cleaned. They are called “Laughing Bird Shrimp” and are farm-raised sustainably in Belize. I steamed this in a steaming basket just until they turned pink. When I tasted them, whatever amount I ended up paying (I think something like 14.99 a pound) went out the window and all I could think of was how sweet these were. The texture was perfect too, they have a very satisfying unadulterated bursty shrimp texture (I don’t really know what the word for it is but it’s something I look for in every shrimp I eat). I do know that a lot of the shrimp that is sold in the US are treated with phosphates so that they retain more water. What happens is this lends to a weird translucent color and squeaky watery texture and taste that is epitomized in those ready to eat cocktail shrimp or in many frozen pre-made shrimp products. I find that this is more common in pre-shelled and cleaned shrimp you find at the supermarket. That’s why I always try to get whole shrimp with the shell and head from the asian grocery store. Those usually do not tend to be treated with phosphates based on my experience. Anyway, that was my rant on shrimp. I take shrimp very seriously! It’s one of my favorite things to eat and I will recommend to anyone to seek these out and try it for yourself!!!

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lunch from Bun Mi

For the past semester I’ve been rotating between sushi, Panda Express, and Chick-fil-A at the union for lunch but the union was closed for the break. I had to trek over to (almost three blocks in the cold!) Bun Mi for lunch.

I got the vermicelli salad with lemongrass chicken and eggroll. Usually their chicken is not this charred but this time it was. Love it.
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New year’s resolution: stop eating out every day for lunch!!!

grillin’

I don’t want to admit this but I am not good at grilling. This was a last minute get together on a 4th of July weekend. We had decided to take inventory and grill up whatever vegetables and meat we had on hand. Between Avijit, David, Joe, and I wen ended up with a pretty good portion of food.

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This probably shouldn’t happen. Too much lighter fluid! Need to get me a chimney starter one of these days.
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In case you didn’t know…

…I LOVE tacos. The Twin-Cities are kind of lacking in the taco department but the best I have found are the ones from Taqueria Los Ocampo (though they are still no match compared to La Tienda in Gainesville <3). They have multiple locations but I have been to the Lake St one which is more of a fast casual place that is usually always busy and the one in St Paul which is more like a sit down restaurant. I usually always get the Al Pastor taco which is my favorite style.

These are from the Lake St location. The Al Pastor here tends to be a tiny bit dry but still enjoyable.
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These are from the St Paul location. I would say these are a grade above the ones served at in the Lake St location.
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shrimp curry

This is kind of like my secret recipe (shhhhhhhhhh). It’s my variation on shrimp curry that is traditional in Burmese cuisine. Some versions have tomatoes but mine doesn’t. The key to the rich flavors in this dish is that I get whole shrimp with the head on. When you peel the shell and carapace, save the guts inside the heads aka shrimp mustard (or crab butter or lobster tamale in the case of other crustaceans). This is what gives the really creamy flavor and red color to the dish.

Start with caramelizing some onions with some oil. Add some peppers (whatever you have on hand) for some heat if you’d like. Keep everything on low-med heat.
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I think I also put in some garlic as well. Not entirely necessary. Stir frequently so that the onions don’t burn. Sometimes I put a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (japanese spice mix) spice which is untraditional in this dish but I like the heat and color that it gives. If you don’t have that some paprika or cayenne pepper will do to add some color.
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Once the onions are well caramelized add the shrimp, the shrimp mustard, and let it chill. Do not stir!
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You’ll see that the shrimp will turn on the bottom side and once it is about pink halfway through body. Turn the shrimp over. Add some cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the residual heat finish cooking the shrimp so you don’t overcook them.
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