New Japanese Restaurant in Chico

7 04 2009

Ojiya is a relatively new Japanese restaurant in Chico.  I first heard of the place back around Christmas.  It’s gotten mixed reviews from friends.  You know how it is with friends…you need to balance the tastes of the individual against their interpretation of food.  No slams or anything, but if my friend is perfectly content eating Minute Rice, I might want to be careful just how much weight her recommendation carries!  Ojiya got 2-gotta try it! and 2-don’t waste your $$.  Hmmm….even split.  Now, weighing that out…the Don’t Waste Your $$ folks were a little more credible…still…it’s been 6 months, it’s not a busy time of day, we’re in the mood for sushi, and we’re feeling adventurous!  Ok…Ojiya it is!!

Ojiya is located on the Northeast side of Chico…near the new Butte College center, off Forest Ave.  It’s got a fresh, new face…actually its backside, facing the street.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I was a little taken back that there was no apparent doorway…until I saw the signs pointing the way.  Ok.  They get a few points for having an entryway that’s away from the hustle and bustle of the busy street.  They have a nicely decorated entryway, no question you’re about to enter an Asian establishment…but nothing that really stands out.  The restaurant claims to have table dining, sushi bar, teppan, and table-side hibachi grilling.   We opted for the sushi bar.

The very first thing that struck me upon entering, which may explain why I didn’t take more notice of my surroundings, was an odor of old oil.  Not exactly rancid oil, but old frying oil…and it didn’t smell good.

By selecting the sushi bar, we weren’t able to see the remainder of the menu.  I have heard that teppan dining runs about $26 a plate.  I don’t know about their table side hibachi either.  This time we’re talking sushi bar.  There were a couple of singles already at the sushi bar, splitting up the “prime” dining area where the Itabisan works, so we were seated toward the far right, near the door into the kitchen.  The menu had the standard nigiri sushi, nothing really notable, but a good selection, the and standard Californicated Sushi rolls.  You know the kind…fusion sushi…mango and asparagus with cream cheese and smoked Salmon….Not really, but you get the idea.

We ordered a few of our favorites just to get a feel for the food – the quality of the fish, the quantity of a serving, the palate of the Itabisan.  Maguro, unagi, and fresh salmon are our mainstays.  After that, we have fun.  I ordered a Rainbow roll…I figured that was a good way to sample some of their fish.  I ordered a spicy something roll…it might have been hamachi, it might have been hirame…maybe even tuna.  The only thing that made it remarkable in the least was that the fish was slightly old, and the mayo tasted off a little.  It could have been the brand.  I’m particular.

We didn’t have anything that whispered “ocean fresh” to us…  We didn’t get the idea it was freshly flown in, either.  We didn’t get the idea it was fresh at all.  It just wasn’t cooked.  The nigiri had the freshest pieces of fish, and the rolls were filled with older-fish salad.  About the time we were finished, the Itabisan presented us a plate to share…no idea what it was…seared ahi maybe…it wasn’t any better than the rest of the food.

How many whisks?  1.  That’s all.  I really could do better.  $36 for sushi for two, sushi and green tea only…it’s a record low.  Rawbar…don’t break a sweat over this one.  I don’t know that we’ll make it back there…there are so many other choices that are really good.  Sorry Ojiya…Sayonara!