From Tim Manners
Immaculate Sushi. Lunch or dinner there will cost you $350, and you don’t get to pick what to eat.
A meal at the 26-seat Masa is a three-hour affair, with all items selected and served in a “sequence … and rhythm” determined by Masayoshi Takayama, its chef and owner. The chef:customer ratio typically is 1:2. If you are seated “in one of the 10 seats at the hinkoki wood bar, sanded so frequently that you catch its faint scent,” you watch your sushi being prepared by black-robed, short-haired (or shaven headed) chefs “from just inches away.” As Frank Bruni relays it: “A chef makes your sushi a piece at a time, reaching for a pristine slab of fluke or Spanish mackerel and using a bone-handled knife to carve a sliver. He presses wasabi or maybe shiso flakes onto a bed of warm rice, lays the fish atop it and then anoints this jewel with soy sauce, yuzu or sudachi, a limelike Japanese fruit.” The effect is “an immediacy and intimacy unlike anything at more conventional restaurants or for that matter at other upscale sushi bars …”
That intimacy apparently is a key part of what makes Masa so spectacular: “Masa deals not in wide-angle splendor and broad-canvas fireworks, but in tight-close-ups and miniaturist flares,” Frank writes. “It prizes simplicity not only in its cuisine but also in its uncluttered environment … a minimalist temple, all neutral colors and reverential hush … The servers,” writes Frank, “…seem to have been hired for their genetic inability to speak above a whisper.” Masa, he continues “is very much a restaurant of this time and place. Of a dining culture in which linens and petit fours are no longer nonnegotiable badges of class. In which a blockbuster main course often cedes its eminence to a subtler succession of small plates.”
So, at $350 a head, is it worth it? According to Frank Bruni, (NYT) “the silky, melting quality of Masa’s toro and uni and sea bream, coupled with the serenity of its ambiance, does not exist in New York at a lower price.” Masa, by the way, is located in a mall (!) at the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle, Manhattan: (212) 823-9800.
From Tim Manners