o ya is one of the most celebrated sushi restaurants in Boston (with a second in New York) best known for its exquisite tasting menus served up in an elegant setting in the Leather District. The gorgeous restaurant owned and operated by Tim and Nancy Cushman (who also own the recently opened Hojoko at The Verb Hotel near Fenway) was once a fire station, but has been converted into an award-winning Japanese restaurant. Here, you won’t find your traditional maki rolls. Instead, think bluefin tuna tataki with smoky pickled onion and truffle oil or a decadent sampling of foie gras with balsamic chocolate kabayaki, claudio corallo raisin cocoa pulp and a sip of aged sake.
We caught up recently with the Cushmans to find out what they love most about Boston.
Where were you born: Chef Tim was born in Millis MA and Nancy was born outside of Chicago, IL in La Grange.
How long in Boston: Almost 20 years.
Neighborhood: We have a home in Norfolk, MA and a crash pad around the corner from o ya in Boston.
Occupation: Restaurant Owners, o ya & Hojoko in Boston; o ya, Roof at Park South rooftop cocktail bar, and soon to open Covina in New York.
Favorite Restaurant: Too many to name just one! If we had to pick one, the Back Eddy in Westport, MA— That is where we got married in 2002.
Best Sushi: We are a little biased to o ya and Hojoko for sushi, but we also really enjoy Oishii – all locations.
Best Italian: Nebo in Boston, So authentic—great family recipes and Carla and Christine the owners are amazing hosts.
Best dessert: Toscanini’s in Central Square! The flavors are so inventive and the ice cream quality is on point.
Best place for a romantic date: Grabbing a cocktail from Ezra Star and the team at Drink
Best Sunday brunch: Mistral – amazing Bloody Mary, too
Best place for a power business meeting: Trade Boston, a beautiful dining room and lunch menu from Chef Jody Adams
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? The Verb Hotel right next to Fenway Park and the home of Hojoko
Favorite shopping venue/boutique: We prefer to shop vintage/antiques. Try the SoWa vintage market.
Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: Tim: “I just bought some Hannah Blount jewelry for Nancy – it’s pretty unique.”
Best Spa: The Mandarin Oriental and the Intercontinental have great spas.
Favorite Charity Event: Rosie’s Place Safe and Sound Gala
Favorite Cultural Event: Japan Festival Boston
Favorite Cultural Institution: Berklee College of Music
Best Steakhouse: Grill 23
Best Pizza: Galleria Umberto on Hanover or Pizzeria Regina (extra sauce, well done)
Best Lunch: Townsman, our neighbor by o ya. Matt Jennings and team are fantastic.
Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Boston Sports Club/South Station- that is where Nancy trains.
Best Massage: The Intercontinental Spa
Best Limousine/Driving Service: Uber. Love Über.
Best Museum/Exhibit: Rose F Kennedy Greenway—Their rotating exhibit really brings the Greenway to life
Describe Boston in three words: An eclectic mix of brains, brawn and beauty
Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: We make everyone go on the Freedom Trail when they visit.
All-around favorite spot in Boston: The up and coming Fenway area for Fenway Park that’s both iconic and somehow also able to constantly be inventive (concerts, ski jumps, hockey) and all of the new energy flowing into that area with new restaurants and residential development. Tim also lived in that area when he went to college at Berklee so it holds a special spot for him.