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Oga, Natick

Limster | Nov 23, 2002 10:53 PM

Supple slices of maguro benefit tremendously from a squid ink sauce filled with good squid flavor and citrus notes from lemon slices. Texture, pungence and sweetness from the colourful garnishes of sliced peppers and strands of radish shoots.

Lime takes the next turn, a fresh squeeze of sharp lime softens to a subtle perfume in a comfort-bringing fish broth with chunks of fish, shiitake and a shrimp. Artfully served in a teapot witha small teacup for sipping away a wintry evening.

Fresh Maine uni is definitely the best part of the evening. Buttery, clean flavors and slightly sweet. Not as briny or as sharply sweet as the Santa Barbara or Japanese ones I'm used to, but very lovely in its own decadent right. Served over a uni shell for visual punch, with an accompanying shiso mousse.

A sweet cherrystone echoes softly of the sea. Good crunchy texture.

Finely minced toro tartare is also delicious; the accompanying seaweed sauce brings in a different kind of oceany sensation to the palate as it tickles with a bit of spiciness. A delightful topping of black tobiko.

A mound of fresh ground wasabi is slightly sweet on the creamy steamed snapper mousse with mushrooms, gingko nuts and crabmeat, but there's slightly too much wasabi and it overwhelms somewhat.

Salmon rolled around string beans, carrots and asparagus make for a pretty cross-sectional visual, but even with the teriyake sauce, tastewise, the dish is somewhat ordinary. This was the weakest dish of the lot, but also the most architectura: crispy soba noodles (I find them truly addictive in a snack-like way) are balanced over a stack of these salmon rolls and weighted down with a good piece of oyster mushroom tempura.

Sushi showcases very good fish with tasteful accessories. They're perfectly sized too -- just right for one mouthful without any clumsiness. Slightly meaty maguro is rounded off with a creamy dab of ground japanese yam, a light-tasting hirame is lifted by the freshness of shiso and shiso jelly. Sake marinated salmon is smooth and holds a certain richness, with the good flavors of salmon rounded gently by the sake marinate. A section of sweet cold eggplant holds it own among the fish, soft yet firm.

A panna cotta like cheese custard is more creamy than cheesy, but the slight tangy qualities are unmistakable, and blend well with sweetness. A small assortment of berries contrast their fruitty acid to the richness of the custard.

Overall a good meal, with the uni, toro tartare, maguro with squid sauce as standouts. A little behind was the sushi, which was very very good, but a little behind superior versions I've had elsewhere. Service was very helpful, caring and genuine. Even though it's not the best Japanese meal I've had, Oga's certainly a worthwhile place for creative Japanese cooking.

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