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Restaurants & Bars 9

Pdx Masu (long but quick)

whippy | Mar 8, 200511:08 PM

Dinner at Masu tonight. 20 minutes til Amazing Race. Quicky report.

Masu is the new japanese joint downtown on 13th just off stark. You climb up a dark, lantern lit staircase to the restaurant (don't know about wheelchair access?). It's got a dim, cool atmosphere with a scattering of lounge furniture where hip chicks cross their legs. Sheer curtains make things cozy. There's a backlit bar, and chairs determined to scare you but which are amazingly comfortable. I said to my friend, "these chairs are amazingly comfortable!" And she said, "yes. yes they are." but perhaps we're just not used to comfortable chairs.

anyway, the menus are beautifully done. folded paper, stitched covers, smart graphics, broken down into apps, salads, entrees and specialty rolls with a separate list for sushi.

i wish as much thought had gone into the food as the design of the space. everything was quite fine, but nothing really dazzled. drinks first--didn't seem very well balanced. lemongrass and tamarind were promised, but didn't show up which made me sad because i like those sorts of accents. instead, the cocktails were pretty bi-dimensional: sour vodka, sweet gin etc. almost there, not quite.

a starter of squid was nice, good texture, spicy japanese curry flavor. (um, quick credentials here: i've only spent 2 weeks in japan, and not much expertise here with japanese food otherwise, so bear this in mind.) it sat on torn red leaf lettuce, which i thought was weird, like sort of a hamburger garnish rather than a minimalist japanese accent. but that's just aesthetics, it tasted good. next, spicy crab rolls and "volcano" rolls. i really liked the spicy crab rolls--in spite of the gelid slick of maggi hot sauce they glided across--but my friend pointed out they were pretty average and not excellent. she was right, good not great. the "volcano" rolls? i don't know, i just don't know: what do you think about "hot sushi"? do i have a stick up my butt? maybe i should qualify that: "hot creamy sushi." i ate it, yessirree, and it was nice, but it was hot and creamy sushi and i feel weird about that. somebody educate me here, i'm sure there are antecedents of which i'm ignorant.

okay, entree! beef tenderloin roll thing, nicely cooked, beef flavor lacking. served in a circular round of cucumber. interesting presentation in which one uses chopsticks to jab up piles of mashed potatoes. the potatoes were good, but i feel weird about this again, jabbing at piles of mashed potatoes.

dessert was green tea ice cream (super yum! i love green tea ice cream) inserted into a pillow of what i think was mochi. i've tried long and hard to love mochi. mochi may love me, but we are not destined for one another. i used the back of my spoon to firmly (and i daresay deftly) squoosh the ice cream out of the flaccid wrapper and lapped it up happily. i felt sorry for the server who graciously cleaned up my sickening mochi leftovers.

speaking of which, very good service.

anyways, tv's starting. go to masu if you're around there, but i don't think you should expect wonders.

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