Oga Japanese Tapas (this restaurant has closed)

Last night I had an amazing dining experience. I actually did not dine alone, but with an older gal (38 yr old doctor) who paid for my meal. That alone is pretty amazing, but the food where I ate is really what made this night.

The destination was Oga Japanese Tapas, which is on a stretch of 47th street with many other authentic Japanese restaurants. I had been there once before, and had I tried an eel and mozzarella broth and a duck tapas. Both were great, thus I knew I needed to return to try more of the extensive tapas menu.

The dining room is in the back, past the bar up front, and past the sushi bar in the middle. It's a small white room, not too decorative besides three plants. It does have a glass ceiling though, so it's like dining in a sunroom (or moonroom), which is somewhat cool. On a clear night it might be nice to look up and look at the stars, although there is an apartment building overshadowing the restaurant.

The menu at Oga is made up of warm and cold tapas on one side, and authentic Maki rolls on the other. The most expensive dish is 22 dollars, which isn't bad at all. My dining companion and I started with two specials: the Uzu striped bass and the spanish mackerel sashimi, which came with a seasame dipping sauce. This dish was light and great. The striped bass had this amazing smokiness to it, that reminded me of a gourmet version of sable. What a perfect start to the meal. After devouring all the pieces of sashimi, we tried another special: the octopus salad. It came with fried octopus on top, and octopus sashimi mixed with chopped tomatoes and mozzarella. There was some plum sauce and red pepper flakes on the side of the plate. Again, the dish was light, simple, and perfect. It was delicately prepared, looked like a work of art, and tasted refreshing.

Our next dish was the Spicy Tuna Tostado. It was almost like a sushi pizza. It seems Chef Oga enjoys fusing Japan, Italy and Mexico into his cooking, and he does a wonderful job at it. The dish was excellent, and I now think I would rather have this dish than pizza any day.

Our final dish was a squid and scallop baked in spicy mayo, presented in a big shell. This dish was fantastic. The baked spicy mayo actually looked like mozzarella cheese, but it was just the mayo. We took our spoons and penetrated the mayo to scoop up the treasures inside (squid and scallops), which swam in a warm, sweet broth. Soothingly delicious!

We ended our meal with two great desserts. One was a popular shiso leaf sorbet which was very refreshing. The other was the chocolate cake which the hostess suggested before we were seated. It was a great suggestion. We pierced the cake ever so gently, and warm chocolate oozed out. It wasn's too sweet which was nice, and came with some pretty green tea cream on the plate as well. This chocolate cake, like the rest of the food at Oga Japanese Tapas, was light, simple, and truly one of a kind delicious. I have never encountered food like this before. For a Saturday night the place was pretty empty, which meant no wait for a table. The place is a hidden treasure. If you are seeking a meal that will please all your senses, Oga is a great spot.

They have some great sakes and shochus as well, and Sapporo on tap!

Oga Japanese Tapas
143 E. 47th Street 

New York, NY 10017