Photos by Derek Kouyoumjian
The genesis of O, Sushi Restaurant and Bar in Harvard Square, which sits on the corner of Eliot and Winthrop in Harvard Square, is a little confusing. Originally, it was to be Osushi Harvard Square, a sister restaurant to the Back Bay’s Osushi. But, due to some sort of rift, it’s instead re-launched as O, Sushi Restaurant and Bar — and reconfigured as a pan-Asian restaurant with sashimi, sushi, Japanese and Korean specialties.
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All politics aside, the Square could certainly use something that’s not a national chain joint and O fits the area’s funky vibe. The space is thoughtfully subdivided into cozy enclaves with as much emphasis on the social aspects of dining as on sustenance. The enclosed bar expands to an area of high tops, creating a space for snacking, mingling and drinking, the latter of which includes offerings from sake to Sancerre.
Quieter dining can be found at a sushi counter toward the rear. Japanese movies are projected on the wall over the sushi bar and above the wraparound windows in the main dining space, createing kinetic, hypnotic art. The retractable windows will open next summer but, for now, warming winter dishes like agedashi tofu — a big hunk of lightly fried soft tofu with nameko mushrooms in a smoky dashi broth — are more suited to the season.
A spicy pork bibimbap is another hearty dish: rice and marinated vegetables topped with a raw egg, which is stirred into the hot dish. It’s served with miso soup, and veggies can be switched out for beef or tofu. Save room for their delicious mochi, in mango, green tea or red bean flavors.
O all night
O’s menu is directed by executive chef James Park (of Minsok in Brookline and Jae’s Café in the South End) and Kyungsuk Min (Samurai, Minsok). The pair’s expansive noon-until-night menu includes Bento box lunches and late-night sharable platters for the party people. The closure of Harvard Square’s once uber-hot Om, which sat a stone’s throw away up Winthrop Street, opens the door for a hip, clubby bar and eatery like O.
If you go
O, Sushi Restaurant and Bar
1 Eliot St., Cambridge