My partner took me to Oya for our anniversary and we enjoyed it very much. Since i had not been there before, entering Oya was a treat.
I would describe the decor as Hollywood Glam meets Industrial. Since the exterior of the building is somewhat dark, modern, and unremarkable, I was pleasantly surprised to find the interior of the restaurant to be large and filled with large swaths of what looks to be Carrara marble, quartz stone, and oversized shell sequins. In fact, the first thing that greets you as you enter the doors is a ceiling-height curtain of industrial chain. Even with these nominally hard and cold appointments, I found the decor to be warm, welcoming, and somewhat formal - perhaps owing to the lighting and to the generally white palette. I like the decor, because the boldness of the natural materials is appropriate for the large space while the palette tones down what could otherwise have been harsh.
Oya boasts a very large dining area, which ... on this Tuesday night ... in China Town ... in DC ... during the Cherry Blossom Festival ... was understandably packed. There were a few tourists, but mostly local professionals, numerous couples, and groups of patrons that trickled in from the bar. I think that the scale of the dining room would preclude anything approaching an intimate, cozy dining experience. The vibe from the patrons and the service staff also feels very dynamic and purposeful. This is not a place for languid dining. This is not a bad thing, as Oya seems to faithfully reflect the neighborhood in which it operates. Youthful. Developing. Definitively NOT the stodgy political feel that is common around K Street or Capitol Hill.
The meal itself was delicious. We both ordered from the 'prix fixe' menu, starting with Tuna Tempura Sushi Roll for me and Calamari Salad for my partner. Sushi is a specialty of the house, and the tuna roll is a good example why. Superb ingredients, very well prepared. The calamari salad was a brilliant alternative to other preparations you might find, with the peperoncini playing the perfect supporting actor role. For the mains, my partner's Roasted Chicken - with the tandoori preparation and large portion of delicious spinach - fully lived up to the server's recommendation. I had the Roasted Tenderloin, which was a little disappointing in the "tender" department but otherwise enjoyable with the wasabi potatoes and grilled aparagus. Between my Banana Bread Pudding and my partner's Bittersweet Molten Chocolate Cake, I won the dessert round, but not by much.
As for the service, I'd say that whoever is running the front of the house might re-consider their approach. On arrival at the front desk, the host seemed a little unfocused and frenetic. It was not a professional or welcoming personal experience. Fortunately, I was distracted by the cool decor. Further, the service staff - while courteous, professional and knowledgable - seems overcommitted. Whether it was an unusually large Tuesday evening crowd or the service plan is just insufficient for the size of the place, there was a lot of dashing around by the servers and bus staff. Servers, while attending to one table, were often looking over their shoulders to check on another table or to ensure that the plates coming out of the kitchen were going to the right table. In our case, we were served someone else's starters before we had ordered our drinks or any starters. It's not a vibe, in my view, that promotes an enjoyable dining experience. The place is huge, so having staff race-walking constantly and tossing plates on tables to get to their next task doesn't seem to be consistent with what Oya wants to offer. Again - to be clear - from my table, it appeared to be behavior that the floor manager was cognizant of and inspired ... or maybe they are understaffed. The servers and bus staff were consistently polite, helpful, professional and knowledgable, so kudos to them for getting the job done reasonably well, considering.
One small detail that made the meal very enjoyable for me is the "Tease" option for drinks and wine. I ordered a tease of a cocktail once we sat down and then a tease for each course. For me, it was the perfect amount of the perfect accompaniment for the meal and didn't require consumption of more alcohol than desired to complement the meal.