Visited in January 2017
BC Minamiaoyama Property, 5-8-11 Minami Aoyama (B1 floor)
BC Minamiaoyama Property, 5-8-11 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
To be brutally honest, Sushi Masuda wasn’t my first choice, it’s wasn’t even my second, or third choice. But BOY WAS I HAPPY I WENT!
If you read my Takase post, you’ll know how much of a nuisance getting a reservation at a fancy sushi-ya is. The good but cheaper ones, definition, the ones at the Tsujiki market, are all a few hours wait, and then the good but fancy ones, you can’t ever get a reservation for. I started calling for reservations over three months in advance. The host/hostess answering the calls do not understand English, and won’t even pretend to try. The hotel tells you that those particular restaurants do not accept reservations from hotels. You have a Japanese speaking friend call, and they see through you, that you are not a local, and thus denied. Your only real options? Chance it with a lunch or odd hour walk in, or go through a reservation service like Viator. This means anywhere from $45-$60 per reservation, per person. So if you are booking for a party of two, expect to pay nothing less than $90 per reservation. This is U.S. dollar by the way. And no, this cost does not come off your bill, it’s purely the fee for making the reservation. They don’t offer the service for every restaurant, so immediately, your list will be knocked down to half. Of the ones they do offer, they give you a calendar, but it is nowhere near accurate. I made three reservations based on those calendars, but after countless exchanges, and finding out that those dates are not actually available, I landed at only one. And they WANT to make the reservation. They don’t get paid unless they successfully made a reservation. Pitiful, huh?
We had a 12:30 lunch reservation on a Tuesday, figured we would have lunch, then head over to the Sumo Tournament. Which if you are interested in attending, trust me, try to book the MINUTE they open for ticket sales. I made the mistake of waiting till 9AM the next morning, 11 hours post opening, and got stuck in what would be considered our middle mezzanine. Anyway, we arrived at 12:45, drove me NUTS because I hate being late. Restaurant was the bottom floor, inside an unmarked building. With no clue of where to go, we started down the staircase, and quickly discovered that it’s more of a service entry with stacks of cardboard boxes, so retreated to the main floor on foot. We took what we thought was the next logical step, get into the elevator, and start from top down, the 8th floor. By the time we got to the 4th floor, the nice lady finally told us, Sushi Masuda is on the first floor. A sign inside the elevator would help!!! There was none, English OR Japanese. It was just nameless. Service spiral staircase plus our nameless elevator tour made us an extra 8 minutes late. How irritating!
All that said, let’s get back to Sushi Masuda. Chef Masuda is one of Jiro Ono’s disciples (from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi). Sushi Masuda was granted 2 Michelin Stars for 2017. A SUPER friendly, super talkative chef that very much enjoys chatting up his patrons. He speaks decent English, and surprisingly, knows all the popular chefs in New York. To think of it, our chef from Hong Kong’s Sushi Ta-ke also knew them. Fascinating how they keep up with that. His sushi bar only seats six, but he has a private room in the back that seats up to 6 more. As usual, you get personal attention from head chef, Chef Masuda if you sit at hi sushi bar, but in the private room, you will get your servings prepared by the sous chef. Clearly, I recommend sitting with Chef Masuda!
Our Omakase tonight:
Small Plates & Sashimi:
- SHIRAKO (cod sperm sacs) with white truffles – I’ve had TONS of SHIRAKO these past two weeks, but Chef Masuda’s was by far, the best. Lightly poached, served in a beautiful rich soup and topped off with freshly shaved white truffles. Absolutely marvelous.
- CHAWAN MUSHI (steamed egg custard) with NAMAKO (Sea cucumber) – The CHAWAN MUSHI was super tasty, but the NAMAKO was way too fishy. To be fair, I’m not normally a huge fan of NAMAKO as is, but this one was incredibly mushy, and fishy.
- Grilled ME-HI-CA-LEE (flash eye fish) – Somewhere between an IWASHI and a Smelt, served grilled and topped with sprinkle of lemon and salt, very tasty! I’ve never had this fish before, and the poor chef had to describe what it was with hand motions. It was funny, he did the flash with his fingers, then pointed to his eye. A meal and a game! Charades!
- Simmered AMADAI (Tile fish) – The broth was insane! Between the broth for the SHIRAKO and this one, we’ve officially established that Chef Masuda rocks his broths. I had my first bite without the chives and it was good (it’s actually not chives, it’s a Japanese spring onion, but tastes just like a lighter version of chives). After being reminded that I need to have it with the onions, it tried again, and wow, it really does make a difference. It usually bugs me to no end that they give me cooked foods during my sushi meal, but it was so delicious that I really cannot complain. I only wish they gave me a spoon for this though…
- Grilled TACHIUO (great sword fish) – Served skin on, very lightly grilled, with a side of marinated grated radish. One of the lightest TACHIUOs I’ve ever had, and very good.
- SAYORI (Needlefish) – Is this beautiful or what? Served plain, with just a tiny bit of Chef Masuda’s own soy. It was DELISH!
- HIRAME (Flounder) – Served with a little squeeze of citrus and a brush of chef’s soy, another win!
- CHUTORO (Medium Fatty Tuna) – Wow was this great! The fat was so nicely marbled, just great.
- SURUME IKA (Pacific squid) – A tiny crunch, not at all chewy, super light, another great piece.
- AKAGAI (Ark shell) – Huge beautiful shell, very fresh, crunchy, delicious.
- AKAMI (lean Bluefin Tuna) – The sequencing is very good. I usually don’t like to go a little bit of everything, I prefer to have all the lights, and then progressively move to the heavier fishes. Instead Chef kind of sprinkles in rounds of this. Very interesting, and keeps you on your toes.
- OTORO (Super Fatty Tuna) – Another beautiful cut of fish. All his Tunas are not at all chewy, and do not have any funky aftertaste. They are all delicious!
- KOHADA (Gizzard shad) – I LOVE KOHADAs! They have to be seasoned and aged just right though. This was so marvelous!
- KURUMA EBI (Japanese Tiger Prawn) – Very popular in the East, less so in the states. It’s because they keep the good stuff for themselves!!! Actually I think we have so much Botan Ebi available to us, that Chefs do not warrant the upcharge of imported Japanese Tiger prawn. This was delicious.
- IWASHI (Japanese sardine) – Wow was this delicious. SANMAs used to be my favorite silver, but lately, I’ve converted to IWASHIs. This was so mild, so amazing.
- KINMEDAI (Golden eye snapper) – KINMEDAIs are one of my favorite white fishes, a highly popular, highly prized fish in Tokyo. It was served with a small squeeze of citrus and a sprinkle of sea salt. Magnificent!
- HOKKAIDO UNI – This was the first good HOKKAIDO UNI we’ve had in two weeks! We were served decent Canadian UNI once in Hong Kong, but the Japanese and Korean UNI we’ve been served these two weeks have been absolute crap. Like spit it out quality. Chef Masuda’s HOKKAIDO UNI was DELISH!
- ANAGO (Japanese sea eel) – Don’t tell all the eel specialty chefs in Japan, but I really never have much to say about eel, not much of a fan. Taste 90% the same everywhere you go. BO-RING!
- TAMAGO – A lightly sweet, custardy Japanese omelet. Will never understand this fascination. What a waste of a serving.
- ENGAWA (Fluke fin) – Beautiful, light, bright ENGAWA. Very good.
Overall though, five cooked dishes is A LOT. I would have opted for just three, SHIRAKO, grilled ME-HI-CA-LEE, and Simmered AMADAI, and then more sushi. Also wished they had more variety for raw fish. I don’t think the Japanese eat as much as we do, when we asked for additions, they looked at us like we were aliens. We had the ENGAWA, but that was their only other fish. They offered us rolls or repeats, so we had another IWASHI, and another KURUMA EBI, and called it a day. Nonetheless, of the fish they had, almost every one of the fish was magnificent. It was a fantastic time, with fantastic meal.