O Ya: Hamachi Banana Pepper

New England prides itself on seafood—so it shouldn’t be a surprise that its hub features some phenomenal sushi offerings.

For those seeking an over-the-top, no-holds-barred sushi experience that places taste above all else, look no further than O Ya. Tim and Nancy Cushman’s Financial District star has racked up national awards and even NYC and Mexico City siblings—for good reason. A maki-free menu promotes bite-sized delights brimming with indulgent flavor, like a scallop sashimi topped with shaved truffles and sea urchin jus, or the deliciously different potato chip nigiri. To experience O Ya at its extravagant best, opt for a 17-course omakase or 20-course “grand omakase,” which clock in at $185 and $285, respectively.

Exterior of Cafe Sushi

It’s literally called “Cafe Sushi.” It’s located on the second floor of a strip-mall-style building in Cambridge, right above a Subway. It has a carpet. But judge it at your own dining peril: This spot features one of the city’s greatest—and most accessible—omakase experiences. Those who undertake the 8-course journey will be rewarded with near-perfect sashimi and nigiri specimens enhanced by microscopic toppings the chefs add with tweezers. On the non-omakase side, this delightfully unpretentious gem also offers affordable sushi entrees and lunchtime bento boxes.

What Ken Oringer launched as a tiny underground sashimi bar downstairs from his acclaimed Clio proved so popular that it took over the restaurant’s space entirely in 2016. The new Uni is greater both in square footage and in menu, with an almost daunting roster of sushi, sashimi, and maki plus izakaya-inspired small plates. The signature Smoked Uni Spoon is among the city’s most decadent bites, featuring its namesake sea creature cozied up with a quail egg and caviar in a single spoon. Unwilling to be fenced in by tradition, Oringer enlivens his offerings with unusual and indulgent accompaniments like black truffle and pork belly croutons.

Ebi Sushi

We love sushi too much to save it for special occasions. That’s why we love Ebi Sushi, a refreshingly unpretentious and affordable neighborhood spot in Union Square that serves everything from sashimi to inside-out Philadelphia rolls to 30-piece sushi boats. The non-sushi offerings are wide-ranging and interesting, too, from the Japanese curry plates to teishoku set meals. Trek to Ebi in the afternoon to catch one of its generous lunch specials, which provide varied assortments of nigiri and maki for under $15.

Oishii Too shares owners with the Oishii restaurant located in the South End. Just don’t call it a sister restaurant; it’s more of a favorite cousin. While the South End Oishii prizes high-end experimentation, this Sudbury-based locale elevates both the simple and the classic. You’ll find a plentiful a la carte menu stuffed with hand rolls, nigiri, and maki selections that run the gamut from spicy tempura to Tokyo-style soft shell crab. Those in search of land-based Japanese classics will find chicken katsu and perfectly cooked pieces of wagyu beef.

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