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No SushiGirl rating as Ootoya is really not a sushi restaurant…  But if I were to rate them, I don’t know that they’d break a 10 out of my 35.

41 E11th Street
New York, NY 10003

Ootoya is a prime example of why I have such a BIG TIME love/hate relationship with Yelp.  How is it possible that Ootoya got a solid 4 star rating based on over 200 reviews?  How???  I don’t contribute to Yelp, but if I were to, they’d get a 0.5 star.  And the only reason for that, is their reasonably priced sakes.  Ootoya is advertised to be Japanese comfort food restaurant.  I can’t say that they are, or are not, but to me, they are the American equivalent of a diner.  A super casual restaurant that serves a little bit of everything.  Note that equating Ootoya to American diners is not a slight to Ootoya, I love diners.  We just had lunch at the Waverly diner on 6th earlier this week, we shared a lamb gyro, a chicken salad melt, fries with gravy, and onion rings!  To be honest, there are better diners in the area, but that’s a convo for another day…

During our visit to Ootoya, we had a decent sampling of the menu, some seared, some cooked, and some raw.  Not one dish was worth a second bite.  After one bottle of sake, 7 skewers, and one dinner set, we left, and had our replacement dinner at Amelie.  BTW – we are HUGE fans of Amelie on 8th Street.  It’s a French Bistro/Wine Bar, with an incredible selection of delicious wines, and great little eats.  It’s kind of our go to.  We’ve had almost everything on their menu, and though not every dish is a 10, nothing is below a 7.  Which says a lot… in a good way.  GO AMELIE!  Again, I digress…

Back to Ootoya.  If I was to sum up Ootoya in 3-ish words, I would say borderline-stale, bland, and fishy.  We have no intentions of returning.  There is no way to excuse a restaurant when you’ve ordered 5 dishes, and they FAIL on all five dishes.  No reason to subject ourselves for another meal that just needs to be replaced.  To be honest, if my boyfriend allowed me, I would have sent back every single dish!  To that point, he doesn’t care when I send back my overcooked steaks, or undercooked pastas, why is he such a stickler when I try to send back dishes at Japanese eateries?  ANYWAY…

Our “Dinner” Tonight:

  1. Gyu Tataki $15 – This was supposed to be lightly seared beef. Look at this photo!!!  It looks like beef that was BOILED a week ago, frozen, and then defrosted.  And it tasted worse.  Contrary to the pork or chicken, beef is the TASTIEST meat.  I’ve never had a piece of beef with zero flavor, the only flavor came from the radish and ponzu.   FAIL!
  2. YAKITORI 3 ASSORTMENT $18 (Tsukune/chicken meatball, Momo/thigh and Mune/breast) – If you’ve read my Yakitori Tora post, you’ll know I definitely have standards when it comes to Yakitori. It is meat grilled on an open fire for goodness sake, it’s not that hard to F up!  Go to any super market, clean, pat dry, salt and pepper, grill, and it’s pretty tasty.  These 3 skewers had zero flavor.    This was beyond comprehension.  FAIL!
  3. Yakitori Momo $6 (Chicken Thigh) – We clearly ordered everything in advance, and not as we went. We ordered one without sauce, the second, with.  Even with the yakitori sauce it had no flavor.  EPIC FAIL!
  4. BUTA BARA 3 ASSORTMENT $17 (Mini tomato, asparagus, and enoki mushroom, wrapped in a slice of pork belly) – I LOVE pork belly. Was this pork belly wrapped around my veggie?  Cuz I couldn’t tell.  I just tasted a film of chewy grease over a no so fresh cut of vegetable.  I had one of each, and threw in my white towel. 
  5. Kaisen-don $38 set (soup and pickles) +$2.50 – This looked so pretty in the photos, and it actually doesn’t look bad in my photo, but it was NOT good. The salmon and HAMACHI (young yellowtail) were the two best pieces, but for local fishes, I still expected better.  Neither were too flavorful, but at least they weren’t fishy.  The UNI was the worst, really bitter.  The HOTATE (Scallop), IKURA (Salmon roe) and SHIMA AJI (Stripe Jack) were next on the bad list, both super fishy, and the MAGUR (lean tuna) had a weird aftertaste.  I have no comment on the TAMAGO or the cooked EBI.  The SHARI (rice) was terrible.  What a waste of a bowl.