An exquisite sushi experience
Masa is a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant known for world-class sushi and a 26-course pre-set menu. When you surrender this much cash (at least $595 a head — or more, depending upon availability of ingredients — before drinks and tip) and power (the chef decides what you’ll eat), the food should be flawless. Luckily, chef and owner Masa Takayama’s creations are, and when you put yourself entirely in his expert hands, he’ll regale you with an array of five to six appetizers, 20 to 25 different types of fresh seafood and a dessert course. The chef is infatuated with high-end, luxury ingredients such as truffles (white truffle tempura; black truffles on oysters), caviar (a generous scoop tops tuna belly), Ohmi beef and foie gras. Seafood is flown in daily from Japan.
Our Inspector's Highlights
  • The best seats in the house are at the sushi bar. Request to sit in one of the 10 oversized leather chairs at the pristine hinoki wood table, which shines almost white under the lighting. Watch the sushi chefs prepare food and ask questions about the dishes—sometimes you’re even served sushi right out of the chef’s hand!
  • Get the sake — Masa’s forte and a Japanese favorite. The list changes seasonally, but features six varieties, plus a private label, that showcases a variety of flavors and brewing techniques. Some sakes are light and fragrant while others are fruity and refined. We love the nigori sake, an unfiltered, milky-white beverage with a sweet, fruity flavor.
  • Once you've had Masa’s rice, any other rice will seem tepid in comparison. Served lukewarm, the sticky rice balls are covered in white truffles — you can taste each individual grain, and the slight contrast in temperature with the cold fish gives the rice a creamy, rich texture.
Things to Know
  • Masa is located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle in New York. If you’re looking for a dressed-down version of Masa’s dining experience, Bar Masa, a more casual sushi restaurant from Takayama, is located on the same floor.
  • Don’t let the hefty price tag on dinner at Masa scare you into wearing your best duds. The dining room at this Manhattan sushi restaurant doesn’t have a stuffy dress code. Dress comfortably and casually.
  • Masa requires reservations, having just 26 seats in the whole place and serving lunch and dinner during a four-hour time period only. To snag a table at the Manhattan sushi restaurant, call the reservation line beginning Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.
The Food
  • There is no menu; the meal is a pre-set and starts with five appetizers like hot pots, seaweed and clam salad or toro tartare and caviar. That’s followed by green tea and sushi featuring fresh seafood — you’ll see everything from tuna and sea bream to eel and sea urchin.
  • The meal includes a digestion-aiding buckwheat tea and a grapefruit granite that finishes things on a light, refreshing note. If you’re still hankering for more, you can ask the chef to repeat any course.
  • Seafood steals the show at Masa. The sushi courses feature exotic seafood flown in daily from Japan and from around the world. Toro, caviar, octopus, scallops, squid, clams and fluke — it will all be on the menu!
  • Another standout: the hot pots, a combination of meat or veggies cooked in a hot broth placed on the table in a pot. You eat the hearty ingredients, then soak up the broth with bread. We were served a delicious chopped pike eel in a rich sauce that we sopped up to the last bite.
The Look
  • •Masa follows two traditional Japanese design principles: shibui and umami. Shibui means simplicity — it rids spaces of unnecessary elements and embraces the honest presentation of materials. The restaurant's minimalist table settings and sparse decorations embody this design philosophy.
  • No music clouds the background and the only adornment you’ll really see is an oversized clay pot filled with cherry blossom branches.
  • Tables are set with chopsticks and napkins, and overhead lights make it feel like a Zen-filled sushi temple.
  • The other principle, umami, encourages the basic essence of flavors to stand out. That ideal carries through in every morsel the restaurant serves — dishes are complex and rich, but each ingredient singularly peaks throughout the courses.
Getting There
10 Columbus Circle, New York, New York 10019