Chef Masayoshi Takayama had opened his restaurant Masa in 2004 and very soon it was recognized as one of the best in New York. The restaurant that operates out of Time Warner Centre is something of an emporium for some of the most expensive sushi. But everyone agrees that the food at the restaurant is exceptional, offering tastes and preparations that can be unforgettable. You can try bluefin tuna tartare which is finely diced and delicately cooked with an equal measure of osetra caviar.
This complete dining experience comes at substantial cost. Masa had started off with a base price of $300 per person, excluding tax, tip and upgrades like a drink. The price has now increased by 50% and gone up to $450. A meal for two in the restaurant can run up a bill for $1,500. This is over 35% of the median monthly household income in the United States. The price is not just for the food but the entire experience which of course includes the quality of the food but the service and the ambience add to it.
At Masa you have a choice of sitting in a quiet dining room or at the wide and sanded expanse of its hinoki-wood sushi bar. There is no menu as such and you simply surrender to the restaurant’s will. Whether it is the toro and caviar dish or sea trout in a shabu-shabu broth or shaved summer truffles or the expensive tuna grapefruit gratinee the quality of the ingredients and preparations are generally breathtaking. Nearly all the fish they prepare come from Japan. It is only in rare cases they make an exception to use some local stuff. The food at the restaurant is, no doubt, extraordinary but a restaurant has to go beyond the food to offer an extraordinary experience and that’s where Masa needs to do more.