What made my three-bite steak course so memorable was not simply the quality of the beef. I’m actually the kind of steak aficionado who relishes a little chewiness, and thus wishes Kobe and its imitators were less meltingly tender. Nonetheless, I enjoyed those two ounces of beef more than my last 16-ounce prime sirloin from one of those dull, interchangeable high-end American beef palaces. To me, the brash appeal of an outsize luxury steak-house steak, with its wrapper of fawning service and old-boys’-club ambience, is as trite as the word “Nantucket” in a limerick. By comparison, that kushiyaki is one syllable in a perfect haiku on the sublimity that can be found in a single, exquisitely crafted mouthful of food. I don’t care if that omakase costs more than the full nine yards at the most gilded American steak house in town. Given a choice, I’ll take my mad money to O Ya, where the steak is indeed gorgeous, but merely one bauble on a strand of lustrous, tiny, flawless pearls.
MC Slim JB is a dining critic who writes the weekly "On the Cheap" column in the Boston Phoenix.
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