Friday, October 26, 2012

Oya's 17 Course Tasting Menu

          Oya is one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. It's a special occasion kind of place, but I try to make it in once a year. I rarely post about a restaurant more than once, but since my first post on Oya was more of a recap covering highlights from several visits I've decided to write about my latest meal in its entirety (all 20+ courses).

          I went with a couple of foodie friends, and we were thrilled to be seated at the center of the sushi bar where we could watch the Chefs prepare what can only be described as works of art! Although we ordered the 17 course tasting, Oya was generous enough to bring out a few bonus courses for us to try!

          The meal started with lighter courses from the nigiri portion of the menu, and progressed gradually to sashimi, cooked dishes, and desserts. Although wine pairings were available, we asked our server to recommend sake and wine by the glass that would work well with several courses each.

Kumamoto Oyster, watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette

Hamachi, spicy banana pepper mousse

Salmon Tataki, torched tomato, smoked salt, onion aioli

Warm Eel, thai basil, kabayaki, fresh kyoto sansho

Homemade Fingerling Potato Chip, burgundy truffle

Wild Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, garlic butter, white soy, preserved yuzu

Fried Kumamoto Oyster, yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles

Wild Bluefin Maguro, soy braised garlic, micro greens

Kyoto Style Enoki Mushrooms, garlic, soy

Shima Aji & Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, ceviche vinaigrette, cilantro

Scottish Salmon, spicy sesame ponzu, yuzu kosho, scallion oil

Hamachi, viet mignonette, thai basil, shallot

Bluefin Tuna Tataki, smoky pickled onion, truffle oil

Shiso Tempura with Grilled Lobster, charred tomato, ponzu aioli

Electric Eel, tamago, fois gras, kyoto sansho

Grilled Chanterelle and Shitake Mushroom Sashimi, rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, soy

Kushiyaki of Strip Loin, roasted onion, yuzu kosho, maple soy sauce

Seared Petite Strip Loin, potato confit, sea salt, white truffle oil.

Fois Gras, balsamic chocolate kabayaki, claudio corallo raisin cocoa pulp

Yuzu Curd, almond blackberry - jasmine, meringue

Warm Mochi Cake, soy gelato, coconut kaffir, blackberry

Passion Fruit - Mango, white chocolate - coconut - soy milk, lychee -shiso

          Every dish we tried was phenomenal, even things such as eel and sea urchin which I wouldn’t normally order. The staff was attentive and friendly, checking in throughout our meal, and helping us make notes on our menus which they gave us to take home! Having been to Oya several times now and tried both the larger and smaller tasting menus, I will probably order the smaller when I return. I left feeling full but didn’t have trouble finishing like I have in the past. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Red Curry Mac and Cheese

          This is the third post in my series of recipes for World Food’s MA Fusion Taste Team. You can read more about the challenge in my first post, but essentially, we are competing against bloggers in other states to come up with the tastiest and most creative recipes using World Food’s sauces.

          Now that I’ve tried a few recipes, I’ve realized one of the things I love about World Food’s sauces is that they are so versatile! You can make the dishes as simple or as complex as you like, and they come out great either way!

          Tonight I was short on time and decided to use the Thai red curry sauce to spice up an otherwise very basic dish. I prepared a box of Annie’s mac and cheese according to the directions (substituting almond milk for regular), and added about half a jar of red curry sauce and voila… instant Asian fusion dinner!

          Annie’s is one of my staples I always keep on hand for those nights when I don’t feel like cooking and there’s no time to wait for takeout. I tend to mix it up a little for variety and in the past have added things like bacon, blue cheese, truffle salt, and chicken sausage. The red curry sauce was a great alternative, and gave it a little Asian flair. The curry flavor wasn’t as strong as I expected, what stood out was the spiciness, the coconut flavor which went perfectly with the almond milk, and the creamy texture that allowed the curry to blend so perfectly with the cheese sauce.

          I really enjoyed this dish and would love to try adding the sauce to my homemade mac and cheese recipe when I have a bit more time!

*Although World Foods provided the sauce free of charge, the opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mei Mei Street Kitchen

         There’s been a ton of buzz about Mei Mei Street Kitchen lately, especially since the recent Food Truck Throw down (which unfortunately I was unable to attend). I’d wanted to check it out and was psyched when I spotted the truck on my lunch break recently. All of the dishes sounded amazing, so I went with two (a small porridge and an order of dumplings) that sounded the smallest just so I could try more!

          While I waited for my food, I took a closer look at what I initially thought were menu boards. I was impressed to see a list of local farms from which they source their ingredients. Once my food was ready, I sat down on the steps of government center to enjoy it before it got cold.

          I started with the rice porridge topped with a poached egg, scallions, and Chinese cruller. The textures and flavors reminded me of grits, especially with the egg mixed in. The cruller was similar to a dish I’ve had with dim sum, and was cut into pieces and served in the porridge. This dish was hearty and filling, and perfect for a cool fall afternoon. Although I really enjoyed it, I had trouble finishing and had to stop so I could try the dumplings!

          The dumplings available that day were beef and blue cheese, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love steak and blue cheese, but was slightly skeptical about putting it in a dumpling. I was pleasantly surprised! The beef was tender and flavorful, and just a touch of blue cheese added flavor without over powering the beef. These came three to an order and were served with a side of rice and picked vegetables. My favorite was the combination of the dumpling and pickled peppers.

          I loved my lunch at Mei Mei and if I could, I would have ordered one of everything on the menu to try. I can’t wait to spot the truck again, and have been on the lookout ever since!

Pad Thai with Shrimp

          This is the second post in my series of recipes for World Food’s MA Fusion Taste Team. You can read more about the challenge in my first post, but essentially we are competing against bloggers in other states to come up with the tastiest and most creative recipes using World Food’s sauces.

          For my first recipe, I got creative and put together a fusion dish – Cambodian style chicken thighs with giant couscous. This time, I decided to do something a little more traditional and prepared a basic Pad Thai using World Food’s Pad Thai sauce.

          I started by preparing four ounces of rice noodles according to the directions, and pan searing a half pound of shrimp in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.

           When the shrimp was cooked throughout, I poured the entire jar of sauce into the pan and brought it to a boil. I stirred in the noodles, reduced the heat, and while it simmered, I quickly fried and chopped an egg and diced a handful of dry roasted peanuts. I tossed the egg and peanuts on top, and garnished the dish with fresh lime wedges.

          I tasted the Pad Thai first without the lime, and then I squeezed lime juice over the whole thing. Do not skip this step! Although the sauce and flavors were great on their own, the lime juice was a perfect pairing and truly brought out the sweet and slightly spicy flavors in the sauce.

          I’ve never made Pad Thai before, but it was surprisingly quick (about twenty minutes) and easy to prepare. My homemade version tasted much lighter, healthier, and fresher than any takeout I’ve had and I didn’t feel like I’d sacrificed taste or quality. Overall I really enjoyed this dish, and it’s definitely something I would make again with little to no modification.

*Although WORLDFOODS provided the sauce free of charge, the opinions are my own.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cambodian Style Braised Chicken Thighs

          I announced earlier this fall that I’d been selected to be part of World Food’s Fusion Taste Team for MA, led by Renee of Eat Live Blog.

          Other bloggers on the team include:

                   Erin of A Girl and Her Mutt
                   Rachel of Fork it Over, Boston
                   Sharon of Umommy
                   Taryn of Sweetly Serendipity

          We each received a selection of World Foods Sauces and are competing against bloggers in six other states, by posting our pictures and recipes. Over the next several weeks, we'll all be posting pictures, recipes, and reviews of the dishes we've prepared using these sauces.

          For my first dish, I decided to use the Cambodian Pineapple Lemon Sauce in one of my favorite recipes for braised chicken thighs.

          I heated a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat, and then placed the chicken in the pan skin side down until the skin was brown and crispy. While these were cooking I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.

          I flipped over the chicken and poured in the entire jar of sauce. I let it simmer until it came to a slow boil, then transferred the whole thing to the oven and let it roast for about 40 minutes.

          While the chicken was roasting, I prepared ½ cup of jumbo couscous according to the directions (this took about twenty minutes.

          Overall, I was extremely happy with this dish. The pineapple and coconut milk in the sauce were a great combination, and it gave the chicken a nice sweet flavor. I’ve never eaten Cambodian food, but the sauce reminded me of a Thai curry dish (although there was no curry in the sauce, some of the flavors seemed similar). I would definitely make this again, and I’m excited to try out the rest of my sauces over the next couple of weeks!

*Although WORLDFOODS provided the sauce free of charge, the opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


          Sofra Bakery in Cambridge is a Middle Eastern Café and the casual sister restaurant to the more upscale Oleana. After hearing great things, I decided to check it out for brunch with some friends and almost a month later I’m still craving the breakfast sandwich!

         Before ordering, we spent a good twenty minutes wandering around the shop checking out the prepared goods, spices, and wines. I wanted to try just about everything, and planned to go back and do some grocery shopping.

          There were several dishes I wanted to try, but I decided to take my friend’s recommendation and order the breakfast sandwich with bacon. It was the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had! It came with a fried egg, strips of crisp bacon, haloumi (a soft goats milk cheese), and feta butter. Everything was served on a fresh baked roll that was something between a roll and a croissant.

          I also tried the Turkish coffee, which was delicious and unlike anything I've ever had. It was sweet with a syrup at the bottom, but strong like espresso and served in a tiny mug.

          After finishing my sandwich I was tempted to order a second entrée but decided against it simply because I was too full to thoroughly enjoy it. I can’t wait to go back and check out some of the other dishes on the menu!

Monday, October 8, 2012


          Empire is an Asian Fusion restaurant and lounge that opened recently in the seaport. I’d been a few times for drinks and tried the sashimi, which I enjoyed so much I had to go back for dinner and get full experience. There were so many things on the menu we wanted to try, my friend decided to order several appetizers and sushi dishes so we could taste as much as possible.

          We started with the plum salad and tuna tartare. The salad was a mix of greens topped with plums, sesame seeds, and plum vinaigrette. The sesame and plum were a nice balance of sweet and savory, and I loved the flavor of the vinaigrette! The tuna was served in a mustard, miso, and champagne dressing and was so fresh and flavorful we ate it plain, not even needing the crispy wonton chips.

          Next we tried two of the sushi specials, a torched gunkan style toro nigiri and the autumn roll, which included Japanese pumpkin tempura topped with smoked salmon, Asian pear, and a sweet molasses sauce. These were both delicious and I was especially impressed by the creativity in the autumn roll.

          We finished with the surf and turf and salmon and tuna sashimi. The surf and turf came with three pieces each of tataki beef and sockeye salmon nigiri, and was topped with scallions, ginger, toasted garlic, and sweet miso vinegar on the side. Rare beef and toasted garlic is a combination I’ve discovered only recently, but I absolutely love it and Empire’s was no exception. The sashimi was possibly my favorite dish we tried – there is nothing better than pure, simple slices of raw fish when it’s fresh and high quality. It was served in a bowl of ice to stay chilled, and the salmon, some of the best I’ve had, just melted in my mouth.

          Overall I had a great meal at Empire. The sashimi, which brought me back a second time, was just as good as I remember. I will definitely be back, and look forward to trying some of the hot entrees next time!