Review: OYA Restaurant – Washington D.C.

Review: OYA Restaurant – Washington D.C.
Located in Penn Quarter at 777 9th Street in Washington D.C. is a terrific restaurant called OYA (pronounced "oy-ya") perfect for dinner with colleagues. A proper description of OYA is an Asian-French, dare I say it? “Fusion”. That’s how you can describe the food to your colleagues whom you don’t know very well and want to impress with hip restaurant lingo. To your more familiar business travel friends and co-workers you can skip the turn of the twenty-first century trendy culinary terms and just say with confidence, “I know a classy place with great food and terrific cocktails.”

The minute you walk into OYA, you are greeted by an iron curtain. It is literally a curtain of huge industrial chains hanging from the ceiling dividing the entrance from the bar/lounge. They hang there as if symbolizing power and are the only element in the restaurant that reminds you that you are in the most powerful city in the world. Once past the iron curtain, OYA’s atmosphere is classy, crisp, and warm. All the furnishings are primarily white leather with a modern marble-white encased fireplace. The flames emanate from what seems like a sea of rough diamonds that runs almost the length of the main dining room. The setting is elegant, but comfortable and inviting with the touch of willow branches tastefully adorning the space.

In the event that you have a large party, obviously calling ahead for a reservation is recommended, or use However, if your party is five people or less, and you are breaking bread with colleagues whose company you enjoy, opt for a half-moon booth. These large white semi-circular leather booths are in the back of the dining area and allow for a more intimate and personal setting more comfortable for "talking shop" at the end of the day.

Now, the most important part: The food. OYA’s menu can be found at The menu offers a variety of ‘small’ and ‘large’ plates so tasting, sharing and sampling is easy and encouraged. There is also a full sushi and saké selection. Plates I recommend include the yellow tomato soup and asian-pear salad with peanut dressing, for starters. The pekin crepes with hoisin scallion sauce, ginger anise-braised short ribs, and the herb-crusted lamb are wonderful small plates to share too. There are a variety of large plates from sirloin, to chicken, to pork loin and sea bass. There’s really something for both land and sea lovers.

OYA also offers a prixe fix lunch and dinner. The dinner offers three courses including a single choice from a specific selection of ‘small plates’, a single choice from a specific selection of ‘large plates’, and one selection from the dessert offering that may include a desert wine such as port. This is a wonderful option if you travel on a per diem reimbursement schedule.

The OYA drink menu offers a brilliant selection of wines, and signature cocktails. The bartender was extremely helpful on one particular visit allowing my colleague to change the recipe of a featured drink to make it a bit less sweet for her taste. There was absolutely zero attitude handed back for a such a request, just a genuine desire to make my colleague happy. Of course I sampled it too. It was perfect.

If I have one complaint about OYA it’s that the lounge area is a tad bit small, especially if you have a group meeting first to have drinks before dinner on a busy night for the restaurant. Yet, I have never had a problem getting drinks, or finding a place to stand while waiting if there are no seats available. People are there for a reason. It’s just good. Also, considering the atmosphere of the restaurant, you truly want to get to your table quickly anyway. It’s just so inviting and comfortable, which is rare in a restaurant with such modern flare.

Valet parking in front of the restaurant is available, or it is walking distance from hotels and museums in the area such as Hotel Monaco, The National Portrait Gallery, and the International Spy Museum. Drive, walk, or stroll over. You will find yourself warmly welcomed with your colleagues, as I have been many times, at OYA.

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