Masaka Japanese Dining
Tonight the Snook and I decided to try out the new Japanese restaurant that’s opened on Broadway. We stopped outside to admire the menu. “Chawan-mushi! They have chawan-mushi! I have to try it.” This savoury egg custard, much favoured on Iron Chef, is something I’ve always wanted to try. (The Snook warned me that he’d heard it was an acquired taste.) We went inside and took a seat. The fitout is really, really nice, and the waitstaff were friendly. The Snook was a little worried about the fact that it was 8pm on a Friday night and we were two out of only a handful of diners. (It did start to fill up later. Maybe they do a roaring lunch trade?) Anyway, the menu is extensive. We ordered my chawan-mushi to start, along with “eggplant with sweet miso.” That’s apparently a very traditional dish that I’ve seen in GrabYourFork’s reviews of other Japanese restaurants. For the main, we decided to share the sushi/sashimi combo. The food came out very quickly.
The eggplant was cut into huge chunks, deep fried, doused in the sweet miso sauce, and then charred in an eggplant shell. It was gorgeous. The chunks were meaty without being mushy, and despite being fried they weren’t greasy in the slightest. I’m not exaggerating when I say it may have been the best eggplant I’ve ever had in my life. My chawan-mushi was slightly confronting, with a strong smell of egg, broth, and mushroom. The texture was feather-light, like a barely set custard. I steeled myself to not like the taste… but it was good! The taste was more delicate than the smell. The two mushrooms were like amazing treasures. I was nearing the bottom of the dish when my spoon revealed a flash of pink. “Oh, there’s stuff in the bottom! Just like Iron Chef!” I found a bit of prawn, a piece of chicken, some seafood stick, and a few edamame. So make it official: I liked the chawan-mushi!
Then out came the main, a long narrow platter covered with more than 20 pieces of sushi and sashimi. That’s 20 pieces of raw seafood. Those of you who are new to my site don’t understand the magnitude of this. Go back and read this post from 2001 where I was basically in tears because the Snook tricked me into eating some yabbie patÃ©. And this one from 2002 where I say that I could never eat raw fish. And this one from 2003 where I finally, grudgingly try it. I was a fish phobic for many, many years. The fact that I sat there tonight and worked my way through a plate of raw salmon, tuna, kingfish, prawn, scallop, and squid AND ACTUALLY ENJOYED IT is just mind-blowing. The Snook certainly never expected to be able to share such things with me. Okay, so how was it? Obviously I’m not the best judge given my relative lack of sushi experience. Still, even I could tell that this was quality stuff. (The Snook says: “It was good! I enjoyed it.”) The sashimi slices were lovely thick chunks of tender moreishness. The only one we didn’t care for was the squid, which started out chewy and then went kinda sticky. The wasabi was plentiful and the homemade ginger slices were very refreshing. By the time we got to the sushi, we were actually getting full! The prawn was – I think – the only cooked meat on the plate. We finished off the lot.
Final verdict: Masaka is excellent Japanese food at a very reasonable price. (That sushi/sashimi plate? $26.80! More than enough for two people.) I really want to go back now and try some of the other Iron Chef items on the menu. They’ve got nattō! Okay, yeah, that might be a bit much for me just yet…