“Refined beauty that isn’t affected by time or social changes. Shibui is never complicated or contrived. Purity of being, of living, of sensing is inherent in all elements of the Masa experience,” reads the Masa website. Also known as the most expensive sushi restaurant in the United States.
A solo dinner at the famed Upper East Side Masa can cost you up to $773; and that’s before you’ve consumed any alcohol. If you decide you want to have the ‘cheapest’ Masa experience possible, you opt for the menu sans the $150 addition of their kobe beef. Even so, the bill will still cost $580 per person. A typical dinner at Masa for two can easily amount to over $1,500, which makes it unaffordable to anyone making fewer than six figures. So the question on everyone’s mind, is it worth it?
Owned and operated by the chef Masayoshi Takayama, Masa is truly one of New York’s most sophisticated culinary experiences. However the common debate for New York foodies is the relationship between cost and quality. How can you justify an $800 meal when you can get incredible eats at such low costs? Can you really compare ‘the best dumpling you’ll have out side of China’ for $5 to these high-end eats?
Yes and no. The difference between the cost and quality of a restaurant comes not only in the end product, but also in the preparation and presentation of it. The caliber of the ingredients found at Masa are truly breathtaking and cannot be referenced in the same way those at other ‘less expensive’ restaurants. Nearly all of the fish prepared in front of you is imported fresh from Japan, their salt from the Himalayas and their sushi served on a solid piece of Hinoki which is sanded daily to a soft, porous state. If these kinds of details are ones you wouldn’t notice, you probably couldn’t justify the cost.
The Masa experience really is just that, an experience. The décor is purposefully simple and acts as a canvas for which the food will have its deserved space to shine. If you go into Masa thinking you are paying that price ‘just for a meal,’ you will miss out on the experience of it all. It’s in the grace of sushi makers with a lifetime of training, the soft and colorful nature of the fresh fish and the intricate taste it will leave on your palate.
Next time you’re in a serious mood to treat yourself, there’s no better way to show it than at Masa.