Stylish Dining at Oya Restaurant and Lounge

Located in D.C.’s Penn Quarter, there are three words to describe Oya: modern, stylish and… white. Upon arrival, two large doormen open the heavy doors and you are transported into a fashionable and sophisticated lounge worthy of New York or Los Angeles, not the nation’s capital.

Immediately to the left is the lounge area with a deep bar, contemporary bar stools and white leather banquettes. In fact, almost everything is white- the walls, the tables, the chairs, the linens…. There is a large curtain of delicate chain links separating the lounge area from the main dining room. The open floor plan and white décor is surprisingly warm. A long horizontal fireplace with white stones casts a soft glow over the main dining room. The kitchen is visible from behind a wall of water, adding to the tranquil and serene atmosphere. The tables are lined with votive candles and framed with soft white leather chairs. White marble walls are simply adorned with large mirrors, and aside from bright but simple flower arrangements, the restaurant is decidedly monochromatic.

While the atmosphere may be streamlined and minimal, the food is not. The menu is quite extensive, offering a variety of small plates (garden, land and sea), large plates (entrée), micro plates (sides), and Sushi. Ordering is difficult because the combinations are endless. Do I order a small plate and a big plate? Two small plates and an Oya roll? Sushi? Not a bad dilemma...

The dishes are artistically presented but with a modern and fun vibe. Creativity does not overshadow taste- the dishes are substantial and the flavors are intentional. The Lobster Roll is exceptionally large and delicious, as is the Spicy Crunchy Tuna Roll. The Mesclun Mix “small plate” is a surprisingly large salad, incorporating cranberries, pecans, and pumpkin seeds with a honey yuzu dressing. The “small plate” Scallops are enhanced with hen-of-woods mushrooms and truffle jus. The Chilean Sea Bass (big or small plate) is exquisite. The delicate, white flaky fish is perched atop whole edamame beans and served with a simple beurre monté sauce and a stuffed pepper.

The dessert choices offer something for everyone with options including blueberry cheesecake, fruit salad, chocolate mousse and banana bread pudding. However, dessert is not Oya’s area of expertise. The bread pudding, served with caramel sauce and rum raisin ice cream, sounds promising but is ultimately soggy and disappointing. The chocolate mousse, served within a hard chocolate-coated shell is generic. For the proportionally high price of dessert ($8-10) you are better off ordering another glass of wine or an after dinner drink from their vast and varied wine list. If you order off the prix fix menu, upon request you can substitute your dessert for a second starter.

If you are looking to hit the town, celebrate a birthday or just enjoy a sophisticated meal, Oya is definitely the place to go.

Small plates ($8-15); Big plates ($19-29); Micro plates ($5-7); Sushi (Oya Rolls $8-15, Nigiri and Sashimi $8-23).

Restaurant Dinner Hours: Mon-Thu 5:30-10 p.m.; Fri & Sat 5:30–11:30 p.m.; Sun 5:30-9 p.m.

Lounge Hours: Mon-Thu 5-12 midnight; Fri & Sat 5 p.m.-1 a.m.

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