Review: Sushi Masuda

1 December 2015

I was happy to be back in Tokyo, trying to regain my balance for the last few days of this trip to Asia. Last night’s dinner at Sanda was fabulous. But today is a new day, and it’s a busy one. And one of the major stops for the day was lunch.

I had devised a strategy for having more sushi lunches for this trip, though I was wondering whether my experience at Tokami was affected by that. Nevertheless I planned for a full course at Sushi Masuda in Omotesando for lunch, which should be excellent.

Masuda has a single Michelin star for those who care; more importantly, it’s rated highly by locals who care little (or actually openly dislike) about Michelin hoopla. I frankly can care less, but often 1-star places for me are best as (1) they are not full of crazy star-chasing foreigners and (2) they have some capacity to deal with foreigners. I got to Masuda and sat down for a nice long lunch.

I relaxed with a sake and then the cooked appetisers segment began. First up was kamasu, or barracuda.

01-kamasu

This was lightly grilled, and that brought out a nice flavour for this often-maligned fish. Nice start. Then we move into bivalves with tsubugai, or conch.

02-tsubugai

I know some people don’t like this, but I love it. Part of the fun was the texture. And I can see Chef Masuda Rei noticing I like it nice and crunchy. Far more observant (and personable) than his former boss (Jiro). Then we have some sawara, or Spanish mackerel.

03-sawara

Lightly seared, very nice. I like this fish served in this fashion, as it brings out the full flavour very well. I am liking this so far. Next up was hamadai, or tilefish.

04-hamadai

Chef told me this was steamed in sake, and it was indeed nice. Not a very flavourful fish, but the sake brought out something nice in it. Following that was kaki.

05-kaki

Again not a ponzu fan, so just enjoyed the in-season oyster as is. Good stuff. Then the last of the appetisers came, tachiuo.

06-tachiuo

This fish has various names — scabbard fish, beltfish, hairtail — but it’s fabulous. A seasonal treat, this was superb with the crispy skin. An excellent end to this segment!

I had a bit more sake as Chef got the rice going and we soon began the sushi portion of the lunch. First up was the usual, hirame.

07-hirame

I’m sorry about the photo of the flounder, but for some reason the camera hated this and refused to focus. Chef Masuda had a laugh as I tried multiple times but it just refused to behave…oh well. It was an okay piece, then we had ika.

08-ika

I love squid with some texture, and we got it. Some chefs over-slice it to make it too tender, but this was a solid core — which I like I think Chef noticed how I reacted with the tsubugai earlier. Now this shows what a really good sushi chef does. Next up was one of my favourites, buri.

09-buri

I’ve not had yellowtail on this trip yet (I don’t think), but it’s one of my faves and it was excellent. Then we have sayori, or halfbeak.

10-sayori

This was excellent. Not quite as overwhelmingly awesome as at Harutaka, but I’m totally sold on this fish that I previously didn’t rate that much. Good piece. Then a beautiful akagai.

11-akagai

Chef did a great job with this clam, cutting it so it was easy to eat but also kept the texture (as I mentioned, he noticed I like a stronger texture). And of course a fabulous presentation. This guy is real good. He was happy to talk a little too. Sadly no one else was here for lunch, so it was like having a private sushi chef…

I relaxed with some sake and we continued into the tuna. First up was the akami.

12-akami

This was a nice piece of lean tuna. Solid flavours. Then next up was a beautiful o-toro

13b-o-toro

This was such a beautiful presentation, making the most of the belly’s structure. Some may complain it was too fibrous, but I enjoyed it. I think he’s watching my reactions more intently than most other chefs do… Then the always-photogenic kohada.

14-kohada

Not bad a piece, but I always find gizzard shad more visual than flavourful. Then Chef got to work on a very large prawn and I knew that was next…

15b-ama-ebi

He broke it up into two pieces as it was so large. Both were fantastic, and I got to suck out the head a little too! Then we moved back to bivalves to hamaguri.

16-hamaguri

Lovely clam, he used a lot of sauce on this and that made a big difference. Very tasty. As I ate it, he got into the little box of joy from Hokkaido…

17-uni

Yep, a beautiful serving of uni. Lovely, creamy. The best one I had all trip. Excellent. I knew we were moving towards the end with the next item…

18-anago

Now this anago was one of the very best I’ve had on this or any trip. It was so soft it was scary…it just melted in my mouth. What an amazing piece he’s found! Lovely end! And of course…

19-tamago

The tamago closed the meal. Wow, that was nice. Almost as good quality-wise as that amazing dinner at Harutaka, but I think Chef Masuda here took more care of me — as his only diner this lunch. I could have eaten more but I had a busy afternoon, so I decided to conclude this excellent experience. Lovely stuff!

I thanked Chef and the staff and headed out happily. Unseasonably warmth greeted me outside, so it was not a fun afternoon running errands, going across town a few times. But at least I had a full and happy belly — at least until dinner!

Oh, I so love being back in Tokyo…

Sushi Masuda [鮨 ます田]
B1F, 5-8-11 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan

* Review of my return trip to Sushi Masuda in March 2017.

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13 thoughts on “Review: Sushi Masuda

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