Masa does not allow photos, so there are no pics. The complete review, with more about the full experience, is available on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...
This meal was early in December, and full of fall flavors. We had 6-7 small courses, then sushi, and a light dessert.
HOKKAIDO HAIRY CRAB WITH SEAWEED AND CUCUMBER
Our first course was exactly what a starter/amuse should be. Sweet and tart, very refreshing, and definitely whets the appetite.
TORO TARTARE WITH CAVIAR AND TOAST
Not very original, but the California caviar was extremely tasty for American caviar. The tartare, however, I found bland. I'm sure the chopped up toro was of a high quality, but it was almost as if nothing was done to it. I wouldn't have called it tartare, although my guess is it merely served to provide fattiness and texture to carry the caviar.
FUGU-SASHIMI, INTESTINES, SKIN, AND LIVER WITH SLAW, WATER PEPPER, AND GOLD LEAF
Although I'm personally not a big fan of raw fugu flesh, this was a well composed dish with good textures. The liver had a good taste to it. The blowfish is of the non-poisonous variety, which is becoming increasingly popular, although it does take away from what makes fugu exotic.
I much prefer fried fugu flesh and enjoyed this very much.
SEA URCHIN RISOTTO WITH WHITE TRUFFLES
One of his signature dishes, this smelled amazing as it was brought to the table. That being said, I wasn't a big fan of the risotto and I thought the uni flavor was muted. My friend who does not eat sea urchin got a mushroom risotto instead made with three types of mushrooms, and I think I would have enjoyed that much more.
AUSTRALIAN WAGYU WITH WHITE TRUFFLES
This was a supplemented dish, at $120 per person. Of course this tasted and smelled wonderful, but it's not like the chef really did anything to the ingredients.
SHABU SHABU WITH WILD YELLOWTAIL
A wonderful fragrant broth in which we quickly dipped our three slices of wild yellowtail. The fish was delicious and tasted great warmed up in the broth. After we were done with the fish, they removed the heat and we drank the broth, which now had added sweetness from the fish.
The seafood was definitely of a very high quality, and most of it was flown in from Japan. The pieces were small, and while the rice tasted fine, I thought the grain size was too big for how small the sushi pieces were. While it all tasted good, I didn't find many of the pieces to be significantly superior to sushi at the other top places in NYC. The only one that was truly special was when they shaved white truffle onto the cutting board and rolled the sushi rice in it to create an amazing rice ball.
Overall it was a fantastic meal from start to finish. The flavors definitely fit the fall profile, brightened up on occasion by some lemon, lime, or yuzu. The thing that in my opinion truly separated the chef from other top sushi meals I've had was the progression. I thought the progression of tastes, textures, temperatures, and smells from one course or piece to the next was very well thought out.
For those of us who care about getting value for money, I wouldn't recommend going to Masa over two or more meals at other top sushi places in NYC such as 15 East or Yasuda. Sure, the cooked shrimp especially flown in from Japan was delicious, but was it significantly better than the cooked shrimp Yasuda gets from Mexico? I didn't think it was. Or if you're in the mood for wagyu, I'm sure places like Megu have comparable quality beef as well. There is a genius in his combination of flavor profiles and progression throughout the meal, but I don't think for most of us it's worth more than one visit.
15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003
62 Thomas Street, New York, NY 10013
10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019