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bloviatrix

Masa and Bar Masa

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But the receipt says outright that the service charge is not a gratuity and is not distributed to staff.  In North America, a tip is always for the staff.  If they're not distributing the money to staff, it's not a tip.'
The 20% Service Charge is not a gratuity and is not distributed to service staff but is used to cover operating and administrative expenses.

If you want to see it, take a look http://eater.com/archives/2009/06/happy_en...ouse_charge.php

Exactly. It clearly states that it is not a tip.

I could be wrong, but I was led to believe that they did this for legal reasons related to whether or not you can place a service charge of the other type on a check. Again, I'm not an authority, just know what I was told. When I ate there a couple of years ago, there was no such charge.

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And people who read it are supposed to know that how?

They're not. It's like a legal disclaimer, which they have to put if they ever take any portion of it for any house-related thing. It's also an accounting thing, as it affects how the restaurant pays tax.

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So in other words, it's a tip, except that nobody reading the notation on their check is supposed to know it's a tip.

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And people who read it are supposed to know that how?

They're not. It's like a legal disclaimer, which they have to put if they ever take any portion of it for any house-related thing. It's also an accounting thing, as it affects how the restaurant pays tax.

In governing bodies eyes, service charges can be divided as an establishment sees fit, for example a portion going to the cooks or BOH staff, tips - gratuities , can only be divided among people who are in contact with the guest, so no cooks or BOH staff , this is why the use of the words service charge is so important, at Per Se for example the service charge included in dinner prices goes to pay the total labor bill, but if you leave an extra tip/gratuity, it can only be divided buy the FOH staff

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And people who read it are supposed to know that how?

They're not. It's like a legal disclaimer, which they have to put if they ever take any portion of it for any house-related thing. It's also an accounting thing, as it affects how the restaurant pays tax.

Yet, somehow, every other restaurant in the country seems to be able to handle this issue in a more transparent way.


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So in other words, it's a tip, except that nobody reading the notation on their check is supposed to know it's a tip.

Almost. My understanding is it's a tip, and they're expecting people will know it's a tip, even though they can't just say it's a tip for legal reasons. They put the language in there because they had to, but I'm guessing they thought people would just gloss over it. They didn't. That's what happens at this price level.

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And people who read it are supposed to know that how?

They're not. It's like a legal disclaimer, which they have to put if they ever take any portion of it for any house-related thing. It's also an accounting thing, as it affects how the restaurant pays tax.

Yet, somehow, every other restaurant in the country seems to be able to handle this issue in a more transparent way.

Very good point. Let's hope this isn't the start of a trend. I think the backlash may prevent that.

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Sifton demotes Masa from four to three stars. The demotion seems mostly based on some service/cultural issues and price (and maybe throwing his weight around a little as revenge for perceived slights), as he seems really ecstatic about the food.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/dining/reviews/masa-nyc-restaurant-review.html


Edited by LPShanet (log)

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I'm in NY next month, and upon discovering the devastating news that Per Se will be closed the time I'm there, I had to book Masa. $450 for a 20-25 course prixe fixe menu at the sushi bar, plus drinks and tip. I'm excited, but bloody hell, it had better be good for that price.


James.

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I'm in NY next month, and upon discovering the devastating news that Per Se will be closed the time I'm there, I had to book Masa. $450 for a 20-25 course prixe fixe menu at the sushi bar, plus drinks and tip. I'm excited, but bloody hell, it had better be good for that price.

If you're a real sushi geek, and consider yourself a purist and aficionado of the category, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may think it's a bargain. If you are not specifically in that category, you may find it overpriced and a bummer. I'm in the former group, and loved it (in fact if I could eat one meal free at any place in NYC, that would probably be it), but it's not for everyone. Fair warning.

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I'm in NY next month, and upon discovering the devastating news that Per Se will be closed the time I'm there, I had to book Masa. $450 for a 20-25 course prixe fixe menu at the sushi bar, plus drinks and tip. I'm excited, but bloody hell, it had better be good for that price.

If you're a real sushi geek, and consider yourself a purist and aficionado of the category, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may think it's a bargain. If you are not specifically in that category, you may find it overpriced and a bummer. I'm in the former group, and loved it (in fact if I could eat one meal free at any place in NYC, that would probably be it), but it's not for everyone. Fair warning.

I've grown up on a tourist island where top quality fish is the be all and end all. I can recognise top quality from good, and the like. I'm confident I'll appreciate it from that point of view. As for the price, well, I guess I'll report back after I go. I'm apprehensive, but immensely excited too.

I'm thinking it'll end up about the same price I paid for the grand tasting at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, which was good, but sometimes perplexing in both the flavours and the practice of serving 3+ dishes per course, yet I still immensely enjoyed it. I think the simplicity of Masa will really appeal. I guess I'll have to post a review some time in the future.


James.

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I'm in NY next month, and upon discovering the devastating news that Per Se will be closed the time I'm there, I had to book Masa. $450 for a 20-25 course prixe fixe menu at the sushi bar, plus drinks and tip. I'm excited, but bloody hell, it had better be good for that price.

If you're a real sushi geek, and consider yourself a purist and aficionado of the category, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may think it's a bargain. If you are not specifically in that category, you may find it overpriced and a bummer. I'm in the former group, and loved it (in fact if I could eat one meal free at any place in NYC, that would probably be it), but it's not for everyone. Fair warning.

I've grown up on a tourist island where top quality fish is the be all and end all. I can recognise top quality from good, and the like. I'm confident I'll appreciate it from that point of view. As for the price, well, I guess I'll report back after I go. I'm apprehensive, but immensely excited too.

I'm thinking it'll end up about the same price I paid for the grand tasting at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, which was good, but sometimes perplexing in both the flavours and the practice of serving 3+ dishes per course, yet I still immensely enjoyed it. I think the simplicity of Masa will really appeal. I guess I'll have to post a review some time in the future.

The simplicity and zen of the experience are definitely appealing. Even just running your hands over the wood of the bar is memorable:)

However, in general, I find that when anyone builds a meal up in his/her mind before having it, or thinks that "it better be worth every penny or else...", they tend to come away disappointed more often than not. No meal has a great chance of living up to that challenge, and having that attitude tends to not be conducive to the best experience. In the end, I think dining at high end restaurants can be a lot like dating: you never know which ones will click with you until you try them. Everyone's tastes are different, and what appeals for some may not for others. That's why there are lots of restaurants out there, and just as many opinions about them.

Either way, I'll be curious to hear what you think. BTW, what island did you grow up on?

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Lord Howe Island, off the NSW coast in Australia.

I know what you mean about expectations. To be honest, when I go out, I do so to enjoy myself, and have something I wouldn't/couldn't do at home. The price is a pretty insignificant factor overall, I wasn't being completely serious with what I wrote in the first post. If I wasn't willing to pay it, I wouldn't have booked it. Looking forward to it anyway.


James.

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Lord Howe Island, off the NSW coast in Australia.

I know what you mean about expectations. To be honest, when I go out, I do so to enjoy myself, and have something I wouldn't/couldn't do at home. The price is a pretty insignificant factor overall, I wasn't being completely serious with what I wrote in the first post. If I wasn't willing to pay it, I wouldn't have booked it. Looking forward to it anyway.

Lord Howe...great place! Super scuba and delicious bugs to eat!

Curious to hear what you think of Masa.

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Review from last night, sorry it's so long, it also could be a little rough, given that I've only just finished it. Anyway, enjoy ...

A ten dollar taxi fare, four floors up via escalator, half an hour of drinks at a lounge a stone’s throw from the entrance of Masa (a reflection of my own paranoia of being late in a strange city I don’t know) but finally the clock gets close enough to seven to make an entrance. Upon entering through the corridor, a strange feeling of tranquillity washes through me as I am led to my seat at the sushi bar. Enough has already been said about the daily-sanded wooden bar, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it is the sort of wood I'd choose to bear my children, were I that way inclined.

I notice there are only two people sat in the entire restaurant, one guy who clearly has some prior affiliation with Chef Masa, as he's talking about his upcoming trip to Japan, saying "I'll give you a call and we can go out to dinner" and doesn’t appear to receive a bill. The other was me. Shortly afterwards, he disappears and a young Slovenian woman (whose name I can’t recall) arrives, and our courses end up pretty much synchronised.

The meal begins with unagi, served with pickled cucumber, the richness of the eel and the tartness of the pickling liquid of the cucumber combining with the refreshing crunch of the cucumber. Bluefin Toro with caviar is up next, and I really don’t think it’s much of a stretch of the imagination to describe it as ‘luxury squared’, the brininess of the eggs and the glorious fat-laden Toro melting as it is introduced to the tongue. Up next is, for my money (and there’s quite a bit of it at stake here), the dish of the night. A small cocotte dish filled with sweet, baby icefish fried over the hibachi in pungent garlic oil, with toasted croutons on the side.

I won’t describe every dish in great detail as, for one thing, there was too many of them, and without the aid of a printed menu it is all but impossible for me to remember all dishes accurately, particularly as the wine flowed.

I figured, seeing as I was at Masa, I may as well go all out and get the Wagyu beef tataki with summer truffles, which at a price of $120, certainly makes the head spin, if not explode entirely. While it was utterly breathtaking, the butteriness of the beef adding another dimension to the dense, earthy aroma of the white truffle, the price is rather outrageous.

After a rockfish sashimi with micro herbs comes a broth in which small pieces of fish were poached before being dragged through cucumber vinaigrette, which was later combined with the broth to form the soup for the next course. I’m sure there’s an actual Japanese term for this style of course, but I’m no Japanese aficionado, so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice to say that each of the courses were utterly delicious.

A lot has been said in various corners about the service standards at Masa, but I found the service to be informative, cheery and charming. The only slightly awkward part was that, at a waitstaff to diners ratio of 1.5:1, it began to feel a little like we were being stalked, with wine and water being filled every two or three minutes, almost sip by sip.

I was a little surprised to see so few people; they only did three covers for the entire night. I did ask Chef Masa about this, and he said the summer, particularly summer weeknights, have historically been quieter. I can’t help but feel that the newest market crash, when combined with nosebleed inducing prices, has not helped matters.

Anyway, enough commentary for a little while, onward we shall travel, to the sushi courses. I think ethereal would probably be an understatement when describing this portion of the meal. Perfect warm sushi rice, incredible quality seafood, delicately applied dabs of freshly grated wasabi and a few other seasoning and flavouring elements, I’m getting excited again just thinking about it.

Good sushi, to me, has always been elegance stripped down to the bare essentials, but it is taken to another level here. A sprinkling of salt, a squeeze of lime, a slick of soy, a slight dust of lime zest; each and every piece was as perfect as I could ever have asked for. It’s for this reason alone that Masa was worth the price. From the Bluefin Toro done three ways, as nigiri, grilled sinew nigiri, and as a tartare wrapped in nori, to the uni, the octopus and truffle, the Hamachi, the abalone, the scallop, the unagi two ways and the white truffle nigiri, there is not a single misstep or false note. Everything is as good as it could be; in fact, it’s a whole lot better.

Adding to the experience is the intimacy of there being just two of us at the sushi counter, both comfortably chatting with Chef Masa throughout the meal, talking about his upcoming fishing trip in Japan, the places we’ve travelled, restaurants around the world and the ingredients and food we’re passionate about. Not surprisingly, he is a man who enjoys simple, clean tasting food; and so do I. Probably more so now.

The meal wraps up with an offer of truffle ice cream for the bargain price of $30, but having been well and truly sated, I decline and finish up the meal with a very simple palate cleansing dish of (poached I think?) grapes on crushed ice, before relaxing and talking with the chef for a further twenty minutes or so after the meal, at which time he graciously offers a photo opportunity.

Now, onto the finale of what’s become a rather long (but I hope not long-winded) review. The only question one can ask when staring at a bill for one of $760 before tip is “is it worth it?” Unequivocally, yes. It is undoubtedly an experience I shall take with me for years to come. The produce is utterly flawless, and it is all expertly prepared by people I am going to have to refer to as no less than geniuses. That sort of experience costs money.

I have to hedge my answer with the next logical question, “would you go again?” The answer to that question on the other hand, is probably not, barring a great fortune befalling me. At least, not for a good long time, and that’s not just because I won’t be in NYC for a long time. I think Masa is one of those restaurants you have to visit once in your lifetime, if for no other reason than to see how good simplicity can be.


James.

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Review from last night, sorry it's so long, it also could be a little rough, given that I've only just finished it. Anyway, enjoy ...

A ten dollar taxi fare, four floors up via escalator, half an hour of drinks at a lounge a stone’s throw from the entrance of Masa (a reflection of my own paranoia of being late in a strange city I don’t know) but finally the clock gets close enough to seven to make an entrance. Upon entering through the corridor, a strange feeling of tranquillity washes through me as I am led to my seat at the sushi bar. Enough has already been said about the daily-sanded wooden bar, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it is the sort of wood I'd choose to bear my children, were I that way inclined.

I notice there are only two people sat in the entire restaurant, one guy who clearly has some prior affiliation with Chef Masa, as he's talking about his upcoming trip to Japan, saying "I'll give you a call and we can go out to dinner" and doesn’t appear to receive a bill. The other was me. Shortly afterwards, he disappears and a young Slovenian woman (whose name I can’t recall) arrives, and our courses end up pretty much synchronised.

The meal begins with unagi, served with pickled cucumber, the richness of the eel and the tartness of the pickling liquid of the cucumber combining with the refreshing crunch of the cucumber. Bluefin Toro with caviar is up next, and I really don’t think it’s much of a stretch of the imagination to describe it as ‘luxury squared’, the brininess of the eggs and the glorious fat-laden Toro melting as it is introduced to the tongue. Up next is, for my money (and there’s quite a bit of it at stake here), the dish of the night. A small cocotte dish filled with sweet, baby icefish fried over the hibachi in pungent garlic oil, with toasted croutons on the side.

I won’t describe every dish in great detail as, for one thing, there was too many of them, and without the aid of a printed menu it is all but impossible for me to remember all dishes accurately, particularly as the wine flowed.

I figured, seeing as I was at Masa, I may as well go all out and get the Wagyu beef tataki with summer truffles, which at a price of $120, certainly makes the head spin, if not explode entirely. While it was utterly breathtaking, the butteriness of the beef adding another dimension to the dense, earthy aroma of the white truffle, the price is rather outrageous.

After a rockfish sashimi with micro herbs comes a broth in which small pieces of fish were poached before being dragged through cucumber vinaigrette, which was later combined with the broth to form the soup for the next course. I’m sure there’s an actual Japanese term for this style of course, but I’m no Japanese aficionado, so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice to say that each of the courses were utterly delicious.

A lot has been said in various corners about the service standards at Masa, but I found the service to be informative, cheery and charming. The only slightly awkward part was that, at a waitstaff to diners ratio of 1.5:1, it began to feel a little like we were being stalked, with wine and water being filled every two or three minutes, almost sip by sip.

I was a little surprised to see so few people; they only did three covers for the entire night. I did ask Chef Masa about this, and he said the summer, particularly summer weeknights, have historically been quieter. I can’t help but feel that the newest market crash, when combined with nosebleed inducing prices, has not helped matters.

Anyway, enough commentary for a little while, onward we shall travel, to the sushi courses. I think ethereal would probably be an understatement when describing this portion of the meal. Perfect warm sushi rice, incredible quality seafood, delicately applied dabs of freshly grated wasabi and a few other seasoning and flavouring elements, I’m getting excited again just thinking about it.

Good sushi, to me, has always been elegance stripped down to the bare essentials, but it is taken to another level here. A sprinkling of salt, a squeeze of lime, a slick of soy, a slight dust of lime zest; each and every piece was as perfect as I could ever have asked for. It’s for this reason alone that Masa was worth the price. From the Bluefin Toro done three ways, as nigiri, grilled sinew nigiri, and as a tartare wrapped in nori, to the uni, the octopus and truffle, the Hamachi, the abalone, the scallop, the unagi two ways and the white truffle nigiri, there is not a single misstep or false note. Everything is as good as it could be; in fact, it’s a whole lot better.

Adding to the experience is the intimacy of there being just two of us at the sushi counter, both comfortably chatting with Chef Masa throughout the meal, talking about his upcoming fishing trip in Japan, the places we’ve travelled, restaurants around the world and the ingredients and food we’re passionate about. Not surprisingly, he is a man who enjoys simple, clean tasting food; and so do I. Probably more so now.

The meal wraps up with an offer of truffle ice cream for the bargain price of $30, but having been well and truly sated, I decline and finish up the meal with a very simple palate cleansing dish of (poached I think?) grapes on crushed ice, before relaxing and talking with the chef for a further twenty minutes or so after the meal, at which time he graciously offers a photo opportunity.

Now, onto the finale of what’s become a rather long (but I hope not long-winded) review. The only question one can ask when staring at a bill for one of $760 before tip is “is it worth it?” Unequivocally, yes. It is undoubtedly an experience I shall take with me for years to come. The produce is utterly flawless, and it is all expertly prepared by people I am going to have to refer to as no less than geniuses. That sort of experience costs money.

I have to hedge my answer with the next logical question, “would you go again?” The answer to that question on the other hand, is probably not, barring a great fortune befalling me. At least, not for a good long time, and that’s not just because I won’t be in NYC for a long time. I think Masa is one of those restaurants you have to visit once in your lifetime, if for no other reason than to see how good simplicity can be.

Great review. Many thanks for posting!

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You're welcome.

There's nothing wrong with going by yourself. For me, it means I get to immerse myself more fully in the experience, which at Masa, can only be a good thing.


James.

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Nice review. i had the pleasure of dining at Masa a few weeks ago. The only thing to add to your review is that the truffle ice cream is one of the more outrageously good things in a few hours of the finest food you'll ever have. By the way, it's summer truffle in the summer, winter truffle in the winter.

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Nice review. i had the pleasure of dining at Masa a few weeks ago. The only thing to add to your review is that the truffle ice cream is one of the more outrageously good things in a few hours of the finest food you'll ever have. By the way, it's summer truffle in the summer, winter truffle in the winter.

Thanks. I didn't catch the description of where the truffle in the ice cream was from, so it could have been winter from Australia, so I avoided a definitive description haha.


James.

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Masa-san explained that he'd tried winter truffles from Australia, thought they were very good, but that he didn't think it was right to serve winter foods in a place where it's summer!

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Masa-san explained that he'd tried winter truffles from Australia, thought they were very good, but that he didn't think it was right to serve winter foods in a place where it's summer!

That's funny. I recently got some Australian winter truffles, and couldn't help but feel a tad awkward cooking with them in 80º weather.

I'll be going to Masa next month. After reading through the thread, I think I will try to request being seated in front of Mr. Takayama.

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