August 4, 2011

No Masa, no good

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A fellow hedgie was in town on holiday, and I had the opportunity to lunch with the Chairman again.  I was asked to pick a place due to my reputation for being "picky", so I decided to pick somewhere that's close to both of our offices.  My one and only previous visit to Masa was over a year and a half ago, and I really enjoyed that meal.  I figured it's a pretty safe bet.

I'd asked for a table instead of being seated at the counter, thinking that it'd be easier for us to talk.  Turned out not to be such a good decision today.

The waitress recommended the second-most expensive set lunch out of four, and the Chairman generously nodded his head in agreement.  I think he was afraid that I wouldn't be happy with the cheaper sets, but in reality I would have preferred a cheaper set with less food.

A trio of amuses bouches arrived:
Wild bitter gourd with minced pork - the wild bitter gourd (山苦瓜) is great for a hot summer day, and wasn't too intense.

Salmon roll - with a little (lumpfish?) caviar on top. Kinda spicy.

Night queen with Chinese yam mash - it's been ages (in fact, probably not since I was a kid) that I last had night queen flower (曇花).  This didn't come as fresh petals but in dried form.  Served on a mixture of Chinese yam (山藥) mash with vinegar.

Chinese yam noodles with salmon roe - the "noodles" are thin strands of Chinese yam, topped with some salmon roe.  Very yum.

This is when we noticed that the service was really falling apart.  Masa isn't here today, and the lunch service seemed busy and disoriented, with long gaps between courses.  What's worse, they stopped telling us what they were serving us, so we had no idea what we were eating.  For restaurants with no menus where the fare changes daily, that's not really acceptable.

The sashimi platter came, and there were plenty of choices. Not sure what these were but I think it was red snapper (鯛) on the left and sweet shrimps (甘エビ) on the right.

The red tuna (マグロ) was pretty decent, as was the mackerel (鯖).  Dunno what was in the middle...

Black sesame tofu (黒胡麻豆腐) - I really like the tiger stripes, kinda like a block of marble or a tabby...  Tastes good, too... with a little mustard on top.

The first two nigiri sushi (握り鮨) pretty much failed...  For some reason the rice grains were mushy and soggy.  Totally not enjoyable.

The next batch of sushi were much better.  The rice grains were firm with a little bit of bite.

Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) - this was very fresh and sweet.  The Chairman complained that there was too much sea urchin and upset the balance.  My complaint was that the seaweed was too sticky and left a residue on my fingers... but taste-wise I thought it was good.

The salad came with eggplant and figs, which made it a little more interesting.

Poached radish with scallop - while others had beef, I asked for something else and got a scallop instead.  The scallop looked lightly baked and somehow doesn't look very appealing, but very tasty nonetheless.

Rockfish (石狗公) - another nice but very bony fish...

Honestly by this time we've all had way too much food.  Fortunately there was only soup left, and some watermelon as well as dessert.  I think the food was OK, but not as good as I remembered.  Maybe next time I'll come for dinner again, when Masa himself is in...

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