Masa

Restaurants , Japanese Upper West Side
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Masa

When world-renowned sushi chef Masa Takayama arrived in New York, he came offering the most expensive dining experience in the city’s history: $300 per person for his cheapest tasting menu, not including tax, wine or sake, or the mandatory 20 percent gratuity. To be clear, Takayama doesn’t overcharge for his meals: He overspends, and the mystique of it all—his exquisite materials, his rare ingredients and his labor-intensive techniques—can be lost on a diner who doesn’t know that the top-grade matsutake mushrooms, used in a small kettle of soup and again on a piece of sushi, cost around $50 a pound. Takayama doesn’t distract diners from the meal: The space is windowless and virtually colorless, and the tables are bare. The effect is that of eating in a temple. Takayama prepares each perfect bite-size gift, then places it in front of you on a round slate; you almost eat out of his hands, and the sushi seems to melt in your mouth. This process is, to some serious food lovers, a priceless experience.
Venue name: Masa
Contact:
Address: Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle
fourth floor
New York

Cross street: at 60th St
Opening hours: Mon, Sat 6–9:30pm; Tue–Fri noon–1:30pm, 6–9:30pm
Transport: Subway: A, C, B, D, 1 to 59th St–Columbus Circle
Price: Average omakase: $400. AmEx, MC, V
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Average User Rating

3.5 / 5

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Chris R
1 of 1 found helpful

I heard crazy things about Masa ranging from it being the most expensive restaurant in NYC (felt about right to me, but our bill was still way less than a figure I saw online) to it having a reservation backlog of 3 months (not at all my experience).  Funny enough, the food hasn't been mentioned as much as other extreme figures ($260,000 single piece of wood used as bar, fish flown in directly from Tokyo daily, etc), and that sits right with me after going.  My experience was that I called 2 days before for a weekday rez for 2 and got it.  There was a $200 no-show guarantee taken over the phone.  That night, we sat at the bar and there was one other couple there and 2 other tables, so maybe we could have gone without a rez at all (unless they stock for the reservations).  It was VERY quiet.  There were many more staff than there were customers.  We had 2 waiters JUST for us.  They stood behind us pretty much the whole time, which was different, and seemed odd.  We wondered if it was related to their strict rule - NO PHOTOS - and the waiters were also there as Instagram police. Ha.  The bar, indeed, is a marvel.  It may be the highlight, even! It was sanded SOOO smoothly, it was like baby's skin.  And it was so well cared for that it looked nearly brand new.  Service was impeccable (if over-attentive for my liking).  As others have hinted, with their lack of overt praise, the food was really good for the most part, but since we didn't get to choose (there is no menu - you just get what they have), there were 2 dishes that I never would have ordered and wasn't much of a fan of.  The bill was NOT the $2500 per person Ive read elsewhere.  We weren't served by Masa San himself, so maybe that's the price for his service, and we just got the tasting menu, but for our (10 course?) meal for two (they charged extra for a few quarter sized medallions of beef that weren't part of the prix fixe, but which they didn't explain when they asked if we wanted beef), 2 drinks, and an included service charge of $300 we paid close to $2k. The meal took 1.5 hours.  It was excellent, but what set it apart for me was the ambience.  It was the most personal and peaceful restaurant experience I've had.  That said, I don't think the food itself is 10 times better than a really good meal that costs $200, and I believe the most important element of a dining experience should be the food.  So minus 1 star for the exorbitant price.