Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Masa still great, and still lots of truffles this time of year

As I tweeted, I had the pleasure of dining at Masa for the second time last week. It remains the best Sushi experience I have had in the US; only in Tokyo have I had better, even then by just a slim margin. It is not just the sushi that elevates the experience, but some of the more composed dishes are sublime as well. On this visit, my favorite was a dish, new to me, of sliced triggerfish with truffles, gold leaf, truffle sauce, herbs, and a couple other components I do not recall:
Note that I took a bite before realizing this was so good I wanted to snap a memento; the presentation was prettier before I dug in.  As a dining companion commented, the fish had a very nice texture on the bite, almost reminiscent of quite al denta pasta. The flavor was very clean, and as you chewed the firm fish you continued to enjoy it. The truffle was very present, but did not overwhelm the fish, the truffle complemented it rather nicely.

One comment about the truffles. I think they are generally overrated. Don't get me wrong, I quite love them, but rarely enough to justify the expense. And it might seem that one must love truffles to enjoy Masa given several of the dishes I'll highlight contain them, but this is not the case. As evidence, I'll offer my wife as an example. She does not like truffles and on our first visit we simple had them left out of her dishes, as they are normally simply grated on top or perhaps dotted with a spot of sauce. Only the "truffle sushi", which is simply rice rolled in shaved truffles, did she miss out on. The several other bites were still excellent for her sans truffles, if perhaps slightly less gilded. Sure, it helps if you love truffles, but in my opinion there is plenty of consumer surplus to go around even if you don't to make it easily worth trying.

And now more truffles. This time we were offered as an option an additional appetizer of wagyu beef.  Naturally we said yes.  This dish was a very slight disappointment, but not because it wasn't awesome.  It was awesome.  It was just as good or better than other really great wagyu I've had.  The lone reason it was a let down was because it did not stand up to the similarly prepared Ohmi beef from my first visit.  Still great, just not mind blowingly indescribably great.  I'll still always get whatever additions are offered, but I just wanted to let you know that apparently it is not always as stupendous as I described previously.
It occurs to me now looking back at the post about my first meal, I went about this time of year, which may explain the proliferation of truffles.  I will endeavor to make my next visit in the spring to see what different bounty the season provides.  I assure you that most of the courses are not truffle laden, but I poorly chose the three pics I took if I was trying to illustrate that fact.  I believe, other than the aforementioned "truffle sushi", the only other truffle was a piece of octopus sushi with a dot of truffle sauce on it.  But I suppose it might behoove truffle haters to go some other time of year.  I'll let you know next spring.   Here is the truffle covered uni risotto, which I believe is something of a signature dish, though I could be mistaken: 

UPDATE: I meant to mention this originally, but forgot.  Masa no longer has the confusing automatic 20% service charge added to the bill, which they claimed was not a tip but to help cover expenses or something.  I hadn't seen this reported elsewhere so figured it is worth mentioning.

Ok, now for an addendum of embarrassing indulgence, but I'll share (once again) for the sake of a funny story.  For a variety of reasons, including but not limited to a proposed hamburger bet over a decade ago back in college, after our extravagant luxury at Masa, we left the Time Warner Center and headed downtown to Corner Bistro.  (I was dining with three college buddies, who also are coworkers.)
Now, I had no intention of getting a bistro burger, planning on just having a McSorley's Dark (or three), but old habits die hard and when the waiter came by before I knew it the phrase "Four Bistro Burger's, rare" passed my lips.  And man, if that wasn't a tasty burger.  I know, it's disgusting, and I'm ashamed, but it was a fun night. But wait, it gets worse.
After we each downed our burgers, one of us bet another of us a large sum of money that he couldn't eat two additional bistro burgers! Yes, Masa then followed immediately by three significant bacon cheeseburgers.  I was not party to the bet, although for the record I did agree to accept a share of the blame should hellfire rain down upon the proposer of the bet should the betee's wife be upset that we made him eat three bacon cheeseburgers after Masa.  Which, also for the record, he did.  We never doubted him.  And his wife took it quite well.

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