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Bar Masa, Time Warner Centre, NY

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Masa and Bar Masa are reputedly the 2 mythical sushi restaurants in New York, if not the US. I have read several times about their extremely high standards, importing fresh fish from Tokyo on a daily base, but at the same time of course I also heard about their astronomic prices. So there I was in New York, so close to Sushi heaven thinking about my probable value for money return, and I just gave myself a kick: at least once should I experience Sushi of outstanding quality. I went for lunch.

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I ordered the Nigiri sushi Omakase which were about 16 pieces including 3 cucumber rolls. The difference to standard Sushi restaurants was instantly noticeable. You see it in details like the wasabi which is actually freshly grated (I think it’s the first time I had it fresh). The simple cucumber roll isn’t just filled with cucumber but with so finely julienned cucumber, you’d almost think the chef needs a magnifier to cut it. And it’s also so much more tasty than the regular cucumber roll.

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Among the Omakase were several delicious sorts of tuna, squid with yuzu spice, incredibly delicious sweet shrimp, salmon and other delicacies. I would mix up all the varieties now, but I remember one tuna varietal (I guess it was Toro) which reminded me of extremely fresh raw beef with the only difference that this one melted in your mouth like butter and had the most pure flavor. Amazing!

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When I finished this plate, all I wanted was to have more, and here I went. The next plate, which I ordered a little smaller had some delicious mackerel which I think was slightly smoked. There was also shortly grilled beef, followed by maitake or shitake mushroom sushi. The two were meant to be eaten consecutively, and it was indeed a nice sequence.

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Probably the most spectacular piece was this baby scallop sushi or Kobashira. It sounds and looks stunning. Its taste though was rather light and shallow. This was maybe rather the show-off kind of Sushi. But the last bite then, a piece of sea urchin roe Sushi was simply delicious and there couldn’t have been a better way to end this lunch than with this luscious flavor explosion.

Finally I had a refreshingly tart Sake and Yuzu sorbet before I got the check, and all I want to say here is that the tart sorbet was probably a good match with the check. But honestly I don’t regret this experience. Besides the high expense I had a flawless meal, and definitely the best sushi I ever tasted. Anyhow I haven’t been to comparable places and can’t ultimately judge about the definite quality level. But is it really necessary? For me the more important remaining question is: will I ever be able to appreciate standard sushi again? I’ll probably have to think of Bar Masa everytime I go to any other Sushi place from now on. I think I got spoiled.

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  1. Luxeat (guest) Said,

    Great review! I agree that the bill adds up very fast in Masa Bar, but the sushi quality is worth it. (I guess they use the same fish as in main Masa?). By the way, your pictures are great, it is quite dark there and i never succeeded to take any decent pictures. Did you have pomegranate martini? Its another reason to go to Bar Masa :)

  2. alexis2 Said,

    REPLY:
    Thx Aiste, I use some tricks to take pictures in the dark ;=)
    Don’t know if it’s the same fish but I assume so, it’s definetely better than anything I had before. Pomegranate Martini? Sounds good, but somehow I didn’t think of cocktails when I walked in there, although it’s called “Bar”. Next time! I had 3 decent glasses of wine though, each was 18 bucks :=/ .
    Talking about cocktails, have you ever been to Milk and Honey? Great drinks there!

  3. ChuckEats (guest) Said,

    my experience is that Bar Masa does not really compare to Masa – the latter is on an entirely different (ethereal) level – but that is 3 masa trips and 1 bar masa.

    you should try Sushi Yasuda on your next visit. go for lunch, do omakase at the bar, and it should provide an interesting point of comparison (it’s relatively cheap at $125/person for sushi of this quality.)

  4. alexis2 Said,

    REPLY:
    I’ll keep your recommendation on mind for my next visit Chuck. Thanks!

  5. Sushi Yasuda, New York — Blind Tasting Club – Wine and Dine Blog Said,

    […] that stands out and which I first heard of from Luxeat and Chuckeats is Sushi Yasuda. After I had lunch at Bar Masa on my last New York visit 2 years ago, I now felt compelled to give Yasuda a try. So I went there […]

  6. Mangetsu Izakaya Restaurant, Frankfurt – Japanese Restaurants — Blind Tasting Club – Wine and Dine Blog Said,

    […] I can somehow tell the difference (I’m pretty sure though I know how real delicious Sushi tastes like!), and luckily a few Japanese friends also helped me with their […]

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