Bar Masa, NYC

December 26, 2018

Looking for a place within walking distance for Linda and me to dine on November 27, 2018, after an early evening event at Lincoln Center, I came upon Bar Masa, next to the famously expensive Masa sushi restaurant in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle.

There are tables behind curtains along one side of the room and a long wooden counter on the other side where we were seated.

This is not a sushi counter despite its appearance. It is a bar where drinks are mixed and poured, but food from the Masa kitchen is also served. The mixologist used this cutting board for slicing jalapeños and cucumbers, grating fresh wasabi and staging other ingredients of his cocktails.

As we were quite thirsty on arriving, Linda had a glass of Asahi Super Dry beer and I had a glass of prosecco.  The menu is very confusing to a first-timer with many different sections. It has no indications of how large the servings are. Fortunately, the man in charge behind the bar was very helpful and we placed our order with all dishes to share between the two of us.

There is also a nattily dressed sommelier who guided us to a bottle of Junmai Ginjo sake: Nanbu Bijin “Ruten”, Iwate.  The beverage list describes it as “Light & clean with mellow aroma,” which seemed accurate.

Our first dish was
Uni Handrolls.

As Masa is famous for top quality ingredients, the generous portions of sea urchin were luscious and a great start.

Peking Duck Foie Gras Tacos.

Well, this Chinese-French-Mexican combination is hardly Japanese, but we loved it. On top was a crisp piece of duck skin. Then foie gras was over duck shards touched with a bit of plum sauce and scallions. Since I tried to eat each one in two bites to prolong the enjoyment, I had to bite very carefully to hold it together in the Chinese pancake.

Grilled Unagi Rice.

Pieces of grilled eel were dressed with the typical thick sauce made of soy sauce, mirin, sugar and sake. Underneath was somewhat gooey rice which was needed to absorb the richness of the eel and its sauce. The top photo was the large serving bowl for both of us. The second was the first portion in my bowl.  This was a substantial and good dish. We asked for more sauce, which was provided.

I ordered Seared Beef Tataki, but the bill shows that we got Beef Suji Yaki, which I guess is named after Sukiyaki. 

This was okay, but the beef was slow cooked and was in a slightly greasy sauce. The frizzed scallions were a nice topper. The tataki would have been quickly seared marinated beef slices served with a dipping sauce.

Grilled Maïtake Mushrooms.

The mushrooms were mixed with small cauliflower chunks, which extended the dish.

The cuisine was excellent for such a casual ambiance. The pace was good and the noise level not too bad. We were happy to have discovered Bar Masa. 


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