Masa is not for everyone. It is not just the fabled price tag and the hushed, serious, strict and rather stiff atmosphere. The food is in most cases amazing and a dream come true for sushi lovers, but the treatment you can many times be exposed to is not what to be expected from a fine dining restaurant. Our inspectors have met a brusque attitude already at the front door and several diners have contacted us with complaints. Anyone who has been in Japan and that country’s traditional restaurants knows that no one takes seafood more seriously than the Japanese. The seriousness can be a bit too much for some, but Masa is still one of the best Japanese restaurants in the United States.
Many consider Masa as the best Japanese restaurant in New York and some even consider it to be one of the absolutely best in the world. A lunch or dinner at Masa can be fantastic if you have the right attitude and visit the restaurant for its amazing food. Visit some other restaurant if you are looking for fun dining in a relaxed environment.
Masa is on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center, just next door to the famous restaurants Per Se and Porter House. There are 26 seats at Masa, with a few tables in the dining room and a hinoki wood bar where you should sit to watch the cooks at work.
Chef Patron Masayoshi (everyone calls him Masa) Takayama opened his restaurant in 2004. Before New York he built up another successful Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles (Urasawa) which is today owned and run by Masa’s former Sous Chef. Before Masa moved to the United States he worked at Tokyo’s famous Ginza Sushiko. In addition to the restaurant at Time Warner Center, Chef Masa also owns more casual restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Masa only serves an Omakase prix-fixe menu at 450 dollars and there are no other alternatives except for the option of adding a plate of sliced wagyu tataki for an additional 120 dollars. A dinner for two persons easily costs around 1,500 dollars with service charges and extras included. No big surprise that the prices are astronomical, since some of the finest ingredients available like white truffles and bluefin tuna are flown in daily depending on what is available for the season. Most seafood comes from Tokyo and that is of course far from any ecological or green thinking. Chef Masa gives priority to the best flavours of his exclusive ingredients, without any concern taken to the fact that the oceans are overfished and especially of a species like the bluefin tuna. It is delicious and most often presented with excellence, but a meal at Masa is usually with a unpleasant aftertaste if you are the slightest bit concerned about Mother Nature, and the overcharged bill.
Images courtesy of Masa
Written by Andy