Monday, November 30, 2009

Masa and his Ohmi Beef

We finally got around to dining at Masa last Saturday night.  I'd been meaning to check it out for years but never got around to it until now.  And we were able to get good reservations for Sat night only a day or two in advance.  And at the sushi bar.  Definitely sit at the sushi bar!  Going there and sitting at a table would be silly.  Sure, the same guy is making the sushi, but you don't get to experience seeing him make each individual piece and putting them one at a time right in front of you.  For several courses the piece is too fragile to put down and the chef literally hands it to you.  Hand to hand to mouth.  This symphony is part of the experience.
I wasn't going to take pictures until I tried the Ohmi beef (draped generously with truffles).  This dish of Ohmi beef (or Omi beef, or Om-gyu) is now otherwise known as the new best thing I've ever tasted:
I literally could not stop myself from moaning after each bite of this it was so good.  This was surprising because I'm not a huge fan of either truffles or Kobe beef (especially outside Japan, but I take back what I said before).  Don't get me wrong, I love both of them, but generally think their appeal is somewhat over-rated, although this one data point may force me to rethink all that.  I had to do a bit of research to figure out exactly what it was I had.  Ohmi beef is similar to Kobe beef in that they are both from the Wagyū (wa=Japan + gyu=beef) breed of cattle, except that Kobe is made in Hyōgo Prefecture around Kobe, and Ohmi is made in Shiga Prefecture around the town of Ōmihachiman.  I gather the main difference is slight variations in climate and local diet.  Also note that this dish was a supplement to the normal already extravagant fixed price, but when you are splurging on a place like this, why not go all out.

While the Ohmi was the highlight for me, everything was fantastic and I'm sorry I didn't get there sooner.  I think part of my delay was because I really didn't expect it to be nearly this good, due to the fact that I went to a highly rated sushi place in Tokyo and found its sushi to be only a bit better that the admittedly awesome sushi I had in that city at much cheaper places.  (The experience of sitting at the sushi bar at a tiny place in Tokyo and having a lavish meal was worth it, but the food was not as above and beyond as I had expected.)

I only snapped a few pics on the iPhone before I got scolded and stopped, but here is the best toro I've ever had.  (I knew it before I took the pic because it was the second piece they gave us.)
 The sushi display and the master himself:

I'll certainly be back.


  1. on my next trip to NYC we are DEFINITELY eating here. and a bunch of other places, but I'm drooling now!!

  2. just be aware it's _really_ expensive, easily the most expensive restaurant in the US I believe.

  3. it is one of the more interesting pieces of beef i've ever had too. once you've had kobe a few times, the novelty wears off, and, for me, it's generally too fatty w/o a lot of character. but i remember the Masa beef having a wonderful citrus flavor - i don't know if the supplement is justified but it is worth trying.


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