Buoyed by recent praise on this board, Malik and I headed across town to Oyaji. It wasn't especially crowded, and we even parked easily.
We decided to mostly skip sushi and concentrate on cooked dishes. We shared:
mountain potato with raw tuna
ground beef wrapped in steamed cabbage
skewered chicken gizzards
grilled asparagus wrapped in beef
assorted vegetable tempura
Presentation couldn't have been better. Beautiful plates and bowls, artful plating, fresh looking ingredients. Everything seemed wonderful, especially the dramatic squid. Then we tasted the food. Unfortunately we weren't impressed by the flavors of a single dish.
Raw tuna cubes were flavorless and mountain potato a bit slimy. Agedashi dofu, one of my favorite comfort foods, was amateurish; the tofu wasn't especially fresh and the broth was forgettable. Chicken gizzards were rubbery. Without shichimi, the squid would have had little taste too. The steak wrapped around the asparagus tasted okay but was too tough to chew. I liked the veggie tempura despite its greasiness; the carrots, kabocha, and potatoes were delicious, thinly sliced.
Beef with cabbage was an anomaly. Savory and a little sweet, it reminded of me of what my Austrian great-grandmother would have made.
Service was friendly if not especially competent. Our server forgot the sake, despite us spending a fair amount of time discussing which types to order. (Their sake selection is excellent and well priced.) Later he forgot my soda. The atmosphere is bright and clean, although not the kind of place I'd want to linger over drinks.
Total came to $72 including two glasses of premium sake, green tea ice cream, tax, and tip. It would have been a good value if we'd actually liked anything.
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