Sushiso Masa (Tokyo) – A Feast of Fish
Sushiso Masa1 opened one of those rare doors that change outlooks and paradigms – a glimpse into the impossible. It was very much a Plato’s Cave, or Matrix, moment – the jaded diner experiencing life. How could the top tier be mere local maxima? The potential was inconceivable. The results were astounding. And, then, to think there were others, possibly better, in this town? The city was ripe for more exploration.
One year later, a few weeks further in the season, the results were no less enchanting. When you look at man through food, his limits might be revealed by his best pieces of sushi.
A Masa meal is a journey through the season, more comprehensive than the other sushi boutiques/bars/restaurants on this visit. Different fish are explored in more detail as they weave in and out of the meal. Raw slices are followed by grilled and later yet by skin or innards. It rivals Urasawa (LA) in the way it explores taste and texture, revisiting and expanding themes throughout. If one were obsessive, the mapping out of fish, cuts, thickness, textures, temperatures, and preparations might reveal untold glories.
While absolutely a temple by American standards, with a potentially intimidating cast of characters at times, Masa is more playful than the rigid Sawada or man-machine Mizutani – the atmosphere is lighter, questions are encouraged, and photos are welcomed.
The highlights of this meal were the bonito (easily besting my old favorite at Kuruma in NYC) and the “salmon who lost his way” (eunuch in more poetic terms.) The only letdown was the grilled baby swordfish – the piece from last year would still make an all-time top 10 list – this piece near the bottom of this meal. The pictures below don’t represent the entire meal – just the pictures that turned out the best – randomly ordered.
Sawada was the revelation on this trip in terms of ingredient quality but Masa provided a different, and equally rewarding, experience. The two restaurants are very different and both are equally encouraged for any visit to Tokyo. Both will be certainties for my next trip. How soon can I return and try Sushi Saito too?
(Apologies for the delays between posts. There are big projects in the works that will absolutely interest readers of this blog. Please stay tuned for more frequent entries and more details!)
1 – To be honest, I’m not sure if this is its real name. I found it listed on a web site when I wrote my first review but I can’t find another reference to it. Masa is definitely part of its name.