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Can Masa Really Be Worth THAT Much $?


BigboyDan
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I assure you Masa's prices are not the norm for high end sushi in Tokyo.  It's hard to eat at Masa for less than $450 all in.  Probably the most expensive sushi restaurant in Tokyo is Kyubei which will typically run $300-350 including sake & tax (no tipping in Tokyo) in a similarly refined atmosphere.  There are many other high end places in Tokyo where one will pay $250-300 per person.  It is easy to find extremely good sushi in Tokyo (i.e. better than Kurumasushi) for $200.

The many Japanese I've told about Masa have all expressed astonishment that one woul pay those kind of prices for sushi.  A traditional ryotei restaurant in Japan can cost upwards of $500 per person.  However, there are very few of these restaurants and it is an entirely different experience from Masa.

I asked one of my just returned from Japan friends about this. Her points are as follows:

1. Sushi is generally better in Tokyo than NYC and you can get very good sushi in Tokyo for $50 if you know where to go (meaning one of your friends takes you to a place they know)

2. The high end places in Tokyo that are accesable to normal people are generally around $200 for sushi. She counts herself as a normal person, Waseda degree and Japanese passport notwithstanding.

3. There are more expensive places in Tokyo for sushi that can go way over $200 but they are not accesable to normal people; they operate as "clubs", you have to be a member. It may be more fair to compare Masa to this kind of place.

4. Non-Japanese food in Tokyo is quite expensive; you can expect something like Jean Georges to be double the price in Tokyo as compared to NYC. Given some of the things on the menu at Masa, like the caviar, truffles and foie gras, Masa might be priced more like a non-Japanese restaurant in Tokyo.

I also had dinner on Friday (at Eleven Madison Park) with another friend, who is Japanese-American and who has lived in Tokyo for the last 4 years. Her comment was that her lunch costs her $15 every day(!!!) and every place in Tokyo seems expensive to her. She's an ex-pat with a company paid for 2 bedroom apartment.....

I think the "club" thing may be hiding things in Tokyo. There is at least one similar example in NYC. The Nippon Club on West 57th operates a private, member only dining room and I've been told by people who have eaten there that it is one of the better high end Japanese restaurants in town. The Nippon Club FYI is an exclusive business club dating all the way back to 1905, and it occupies 7 floors of a high rise. Anyone know a member?

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oakapple, what determines a "$150 experience," as opposed to a $225 experience, for you? What were the positives, and where and how did the experience lose $75?

This is where I have trouble, trying to put an actual, objective, calculable dollar value on the (to me) highly subjective "experience" of a restaurant meal. I can have a gut feeling (our $1,000 for three lunch at Per Se was definitely NOT a 1K experience), but cannot quantify it. How do you?

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oakapple, what determines a "$150 experience," as opposed to a $225 experience, for you?  What were the positives, and where and how did the experience lose $75?

This is where I have trouble, trying to put an actual, objective, calculable dollar value on the (to me) highly subjective "experience" of a restaurant meal. I can have a gut feeling (our $1,000 for three lunch at Per Se was definitely NOT a 1K experience), but cannot quantify it. How do you?

Suzanne, it can't be quantified exactly—as you obviously recognize. This doesn't prevent one from saying, "My gut tells me that I'd have been happy to pay $150 for this experience, but at $225 it felt over-priced." It's obviously an imprecise assessment. Maybe that meal would have felt right at $175; I don't know. I can only tell you that my companion, whose knowledge of fine dining in NYC is roughly comparable to mine, had the same reaction. I reviewed the meal in question here.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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oakapple, what determines a "$150 experience," as opposed to a $225 experience, for you?  What were the positives, and where and how did the experience lose $75?

This is where I have trouble, trying to put an actual, objective, calculable dollar value on the (to me) highly subjective "experience" of a restaurant meal. I can have a gut feeling (our $1,000 for three lunch at Per Se was definitely NOT a 1K experience), but cannot quantify it. How do you?

Suzanne, it can't be quantified exactly—as you obviously recognize. This doesn't prevent one from saying, "My gut tells me that I'd have been happy to pay $150 for this experience, but at $225 it felt over-priced." It's obviously an imprecise assessment. Maybe that meal would have felt right at $175; I don't know. I can only tell you that my companion, whose knowledge of fine dining in NYC is roughly comparable to mine, had the same reaction. I reviewed the meal in question here.

One of the better dishes I have had in NYC is the bowl of lima bean stew with sausage at Polona, a dive on First Avenue around 5th street. It costs around $3. I enjoy it more than anything I have ever had at Bar Masa......

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I assure you Masa's prices are not the norm for high end sushi in Tokyo.  It's hard to eat at Masa for less than $450 all in.  Probably the most expensive sushi restaurant in Tokyo is Kyubei which will typically run $300-350 including sake & tax (no tipping in Tokyo) in a similarly refined atmosphere.  There are many other high end places in Tokyo where one will pay $250-300 per person.  It is easy to find extremely good sushi in Tokyo (i.e. better than Kurumasushi) for $200.

The many Japanese I've told about Masa have all expressed astonishment that one woul pay those kind of prices for sushi.  A traditional ryotei restaurant in Japan can cost upwards of $500 per person.  However, there are very few of these restaurants and it is an entirely different experience from Masa.

I asked one of my just returned from Japan friends about this. Her points are as follows:

1. Sushi is generally better in Tokyo than NYC and you can get very good sushi in Tokyo for $50 if you know where to go (meaning one of your friends takes you to a place they know)

2. The high end places in Tokyo that are accesable to normal people are generally around $200 for sushi. She counts herself as a normal person, Waseda degree and Japanese passport notwithstanding.

3. There are more expensive places in Tokyo for sushi that can go way over $200 but they are not accesable to normal people; they operate as "clubs", you have to be a member. It may be more fair to compare Masa to this kind of place.

4. Non-Japanese food in Tokyo is quite expensive; you can expect something like Jean Georges to be double the price in Tokyo as compared to NYC. Given some of the things on the menu at Masa, like the caviar, truffles and foie gras, Masa might be priced more like a non-Japanese restaurant in Tokyo.

I also had dinner on Friday (at Eleven Madison Park) with another friend, who is Japanese-American and who has lived in Tokyo for the last 4 years. Her comment was that her lunch costs her $15 every day(!!!) and every place in Tokyo seems expensive to her. She's an ex-pat with a company paid for 2 bedroom apartment.....

I think the "club" thing may be hiding things in Tokyo. There is at least one similar example in NYC. The Nippon Club on West 57th operates a private, member only dining room and I've been told by people who have eaten there that it is one of the better high end Japanese restaurants in town. The Nippon Club FYI is an exclusive business club dating all the way back to 1905, and it occupies 7 floors of a high rise. Anyone know a member?

I might have been misleading with my sushi in Tokyo analogy, which was incorrect. Indeed, excellent sushi is available at much less than $350 a head. As you are indicating, Masa falls in a category that goes beyond your average sushi restaurant be it in NY or Tokyo since the latter do not feature items such as Foie Gras or Caviar on their menu. Masa is rather part of a very small pool of restaurants that offer luxurious products in a unique and particular setting. So in terms of the overall experience, it would be more appropriate to compare Masa with the likes of ADNY than with a good sushi restaurant in Tokyo which is not considered luxury in the Japanese sense.

The idea that I was trying to convey earlier in this thread is that from a monetary point of view, to experience the very high end in cities such as Tokyo or Paris for example, one has to be ready to pay $300 or $400. That figure is a standard. A traditional Ryotei for instance fits the description of a high end restaurant in Japan. As mjs said, $500 is common at such places because it is considered the standard price to pay for luxury. In a similar fashion, if you want three star or even two star cuisine in Paris, you should be ready to pay big bucks, $150 will get you close to nowhere.

This all serves to illustrate my original and primary point, that in New York, we should be glad that luxurious four star food generally costs us less than $150.

A quick note about the Nippon Club: my wife's father is a member and a few years back, she had the opportunity to have lunch there with him. It offers traditional Japanese food that she qualified as "okay". It is expensive but not outrageously priced. According to her, similar food in quality can be had at Nippon Restaurant or Nadaman.

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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I have nothing but the greatest respect for this great chef and his wonderful restaurant, but it seems that for the same price, one can fly to Tokyo and have an amazing sushi experience for close to the same price.  I am not trying to take anything away from what Masa is trying to do, but at what point does value come into the equation?

Value comes into the equation at all levels of the dining pyramid. I had a rather empty feeling after spending $225 for two at Café Gray, not because it was bad, but because it felt like a $150 experience. I'm not planning to rush back.

Most of the people posting on this thread, including me, haven't actually tried Masa. We must therefore rely on critical consensus, and just about everyone who's written about it says that Masa is mind-blowingly good. This presumes you've eaten enough Japanese food to know the difference, and that you can afford to make this kind of investment in one meal. There are probably very few of us for whom that's true.

FYI, the lowest round-trip airfare to Tokyo right now is $2,870 on expedia.com. That's a coach fare. You'll also need a hotel. Based on that, if the one thing you're after is an amazing sushi experience, Masa looks like a bargain.

The best Japanese food I have ever eaten was at Morimoto in Philadelphia. I usually opt for his tasting menu's which start at $80 and go as high as your willing to spend. Each course is laden with caviar, toro, kobe beef, and whatever other specialty he has gotten in for the night. A scallop app that was ordered I watched him extract the scallop from the shell the size of a dinner plate. He grates his wasabi fresh also which I had never seen before. He offers blowfish if you are up to the challange as well. I find his food to be imaginative and I am never dissappointed with "The Iron Chef" when I spend my money there. I could easily spend the $500 a head price there if I had the money burning a whole in my pocket but my point is it is a choice eating there. You could just have a few pieces of sushi and go home if you wish or you can go all out. It's nice to have a choice and be able to sample fine food. Oh, a trip to Philly is a lot less than Japan.

CherieV

Eat well, drink better!

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A quick note about the Nippon Club: my wife's father is a member and a few years back, she had the opportunity to have lunch there with him. It offers traditional Japanese food that she qualified as "okay". It is expensive but not outrageously priced.  According to her, similar food in quality can be had at Nippon Restaurant or Nadaman.

Nippon Restaurant was probably good 30 years ago, my friends say its just plain bad now. It used to be a top NYC Japanese restaurant. I used to eat at Soba Nippon, same owner and it was OK, not great. Nadaman has a varying reputation, depends on who you ask. Nippon Club is supposed to be good; my friend's boss is a member and she (the friend) described a recent dinner there for a departing co-worker as quite good.

I asked similar questions about value with respect to ADNY before I went there. Fat Guy convinced me it was worth it. My view about ADNY is that it is quite good and if I had money, I would probably eat there frequently. Given my current economics, I would rather spend my money on something else as opposed to ADNY. Masa may be that something else.

This of course of also raises the question of taste buds. Some of my Japanese friends think sushi from Daichi is good. I've never liked Blue Ribbon Sushi, found Tomoe to be OK and while I like Tsuki, it isn't a first class place (nor is it priced like one). Many people on eGullet swear by those places.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I assure you Masa's prices are not the norm for high end sushi in Tokyo.  It's hard to eat at Masa for less than $450 all in.  Probably the most expensive sushi restaurant in Tokyo is Kyubei which will typically run $300-350 including sake & tax (no tipping in Tokyo) in a similarly refined atmosphere.  There are many other high end places in Tokyo where one will pay $250-300 per person.  It is easy to find extremely good sushi in Tokyo (i.e. better than Kurumasushi) for $200.

The many Japanese I've told about Masa have all expressed astonishment that one woul pay those kind of prices for sushi.  A traditional ryotei restaurant in Japan can cost upwards of $500 per person.  However, there are very few of these restaurants and it is an entirely different experience from Masa.

I asked one of my just returned from Japan friends about this. Her points are as follows:

1. Sushi is generally better in Tokyo than NYC and you can get very good sushi in Tokyo for $50 if you know where to go (meaning one of your friends takes you to a place they know)

2. The high end places in Tokyo that are accesable to normal people are generally around $200 for sushi. She counts herself as a normal person, Waseda degree and Japanese passport notwithstanding.

3. There are more expensive places in Tokyo for sushi that can go way over $200 but they are not accesable to normal people; they operate as "clubs", you have to be a member. It may be more fair to compare Masa to this kind of place.

4. Non-Japanese food in Tokyo is quite expensive; you can expect something like Jean Georges to be double the price in Tokyo as compared to NYC. Given some of the things on the menu at Masa, like the caviar, truffles and foie gras, Masa might be priced more like a non-Japanese restaurant in Tokyo.

I also had dinner on Friday (at Eleven Madison Park) with another friend, who is Japanese-American and who has lived in Tokyo for the last 4 years. Her comment was that her lunch costs her $15 every day(!!!) and every place in Tokyo seems expensive to her. She's an ex-pat with a company paid for 2 bedroom apartment.....

I think the "club" thing may be hiding things in Tokyo. There is at least one similar example in NYC. The Nippon Club on West 57th operates a private, member only dining room and I've been told by people who have eaten there that it is one of the better high end Japanese restaurants in town. The Nippon Club FYI is an exclusive business club dating all the way back to 1905, and it occupies 7 floors of a high rise. Anyone know a member?

As some others have pointed out, The Nippon Club isn't very good. BTW, it isn't all that exclusive either. It is pretty easy to become a member if you know other members.

Your friend who pays $15 every day for lunch in Tokyo is eating at expensive places. Even in the pretty good lunch places in some of the office bldgs catering to foreigners a very decent lunch can be had for $8-10 (i.e. less costly than worse food in NYC). Of course, it is possible to spend $15 at "regular" lunch places depending on what you order. However, I usually feel that I spend a few dollars less for lunch in Tokyo versus the comparable place in NY.

I'm fortunate enought to have been invited to several of the special "clubs." The food isn't generally better than high end restaurants at which anyone can make a reservation (e.g. Kyubei). The exception are special Ryotei by invitation only places.

I've also had some really good sushi for $50-$100 ($50 is if you have a Japanese sized appetite) through knowing people (for example the semi-private sushi bar owned by someone who also owns several wholesale stalls in Tsukiji). Some of this easily rivals or betters the top places in NY (Masa excepted since I haven't been there). However, it isn't really a fair comparison since you couldn't have such places in NY.

Point well taken about foreign food in Tokyo. French is what is really outrageous - e.g. Tour d'Argent Tokyo. I haven't eaten there but am told it isn't that good. OTOH, I've had excellent Italian food in Tokyo for $200/person.

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The best Japanese food I have ever eaten was at Morimoto in Philadelphia.  I usually opt for his tasting menu's which start at $80 and go as high as your willing to spend.  Each course is laden with caviar, toro, kobe beef, and whatever other specialty he has gotten in for the night.  A scallop app that was ordered I watched him extract the scallop from the shell the size of a dinner plate.  He grates his wasabi fresh also which I had never seen before.  He offers blowfish if you are up to the challange as well.  I find his food to be imaginative and I am never dissappointed with "The Iron Chef" when I spend my money there. I could easily spend the $500 a head price there if I had the money burning a whole in my pocket but my point is it is a choice eating there.  You could just have a few pieces of sushi and go home if you wish or you can go all out.  It's nice to have a choice and be able to sample fine food.  Oh, a trip to Philly is a lot less than Japan.

I was going to make a similar point. Morimoto is pretty liberal with the foie gras, white truffles, caviar, kobe beef, caviar, etc. The meal doesn't cost anywhere near $500.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hilarious "review" of Masa in this week's New Yorker

I had been trying to get a reservation at Masa since 1987, seventeen years before it opened, as I knew that one of the prerequisites of dining there was a knowledge of the future. I also knew of the restaurant’s strict “on-time” policy. Babette and I arrived exactly one minute and twenty-four seconds late. We know this because of the Swiss Atomic clock that diners see upon arrival at Masa.
Edited by johnnyd (log)

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I love the New Yorker spoof, because it actually does speak to the subject of "value" seriously.

To me, Masa's prices are so very high that for it too seem like a good value, the food would have to seem priceless--special ingredients, and such special preparation that the subject of price would go out the window. Tasting the food would have to seem like seeing a snow leopard in wild--a rare and un-quantifiable experience. On top of truly special food, the atmosphere and service would have to make me feel like a queen...truly and genuinely rich...completely pampered...and as if anything was possible for me.

If I were super-rich, would I go to restaurants with Masa prices? Of course--I would happily try any restaurant that sounded special, unique and delicious. Once. But even if money were no object at all, it would take value for me to return to that restaurant. That's true in my current (low) budget, too. And even if I were very, very rich, I'd take umbrage at feeling ripped-off--bottled water sold at 350% of the retail price, $16 martinis, way way marked up wine list, snotty service, and no extras would still irritate me on principle. I'd look for places that are comfortable and lovely, with knowledgable staff and a true service ethic. It matters why things are expensive--when I see the prices of things that don't have special ingredients, aren't carefully made by a great chef, and aren't rare--like Evian water--hopped up to cost a zillion bucks, I get annoyed. Or when the restaurant expects you to be on an expense account and does creepy things like putting small bottles of olive oil on the table and then charging you $7 when you open them and put them on your bread.

There are lots of cheap or mid-priced NYC restaurants that I think are great value, and I'd go just as often if I were rich (rather than replacing them with luxe reservations.) I might work off the food at a fancier gym.

I worry with certain new restaurants that they have a brand-name ethic...I'd never pay five times as much for, say, a suit because it had a prestigious brand name...I would pay five times more for a suit that was clearly better made, higher-quality fabric, beautifully-tailored, etc. Like a suit, a truly great meal can last the rest of your life...you can remember it well enough to taste it later. But an ordinary meal priced high is like a brand-name, cheap, sweat-shop suit with a trumped-up price.

Per Se and Masa sound special as restaurants, but I have to say I hate the sound of the Time Warner Center...too corporate, touristy, mall-like...I haven't eaten there, though, only looked at the place.

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[...]

There are lots of cheap or mid-priced NYC restaurants that I think are great value[...]

That's news I can use. Please post about them separately, either in separate threads or in threads like the one about your favorite "middlebrow" restaurants or non-fancy restaurants.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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If I were super-rich, would I go to restaurants with Masa prices?  Of course--I would happily try any restaurant that sounded special, unique and delicious.  Once.  But even if money were no object at all, it would take value for me to return to that restaurant.

Well... here's the deal, Liz: I think it's really hard for us to say what we would do if we were super rich. From my current perspective, I might think that I wold never own five homes. But, you know... people do. The concept of "value" can change a lot when $200 just doesn't seem that different from $500 to you. And for sure Masa is offering some special things in terms of service, product and prestige that can't be had for less money. Indeed, for some people, it's worth it to spend lots of money for something simply because people with less money can't afford it. Is any pair of shoes worth $500?

--

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FYI, the lowest round-trip airfare to Tokyo right now is $2,870 on expedia.com. That's a coach fare. You'll also need a hotel. Based on that, if the one thing you're after is an amazing sushi experience, Masa looks like a bargain.

That's absurd! I have flown to Tokyo from Albuquerque, L.A., Boston and New York at different times and I've never once paid over $650 for a round trip ticket. If you fly out of L.A., it's usually around $450... and nonstop flights from JFK to Tokyo cost even less than $650 on Delta, Nippon and Japan Airlines. American Airlines is a couple of dollars more.

I use Travelocity.

Edited by Verjuice (log)
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A friend of mine phoned Masa a few days ago for four seats at the Sushi bar for March 8. The Japanese woman who took the call asked him a lot of questions such as do you know what sushi is; do you know what it costs to dine here; do you know that we only serve fish; and are you allergic to any foods. My friend had no trouble obtaining the reservation and thought it was rather strange that the woman was asking so many questions. We wondered if customers were walking out before they finished; were complaining about the meal; or if they stiffed the restaurant or refused to pay the entire bill. Has anyone heard a similar story?

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A friend of mine phoned Masa a few days ago for four seats at the Sushi bar for March 8. The Japanese woman who took the call asked him a lot of questions such as do you know what sushi is; do you know what it costs to dine here; do you know that we only serve fish; and are you allergic to any foods. My friend had no trouble obtaining the reservation and thought it was rather strange that the woman was asking so many questions. We wondered if customers were walking out before they finished; were complaining about the meal; or if they stiffed the restaurant or refused to pay the entire bill. Has anyone heard a similar story?

I had a sort of similar experience when I called to make a reservation. They asked things like "Do you understand how dinner works here?," etc. I was not asked, however, if I knew what sushi was-- honestly, it would surprise me if your friend was asked that question out of the blue. I wonder if he asked a question of his own that prompted it. Anyway, I didn't find the questions I was asked strange at all. To me, it was courtesy, and good business. I assumed the food allergies question was a way of finding out if the day's dishes need to be adjusted at all for the individual diner's needs-- for example, I don't eat red meat and told the hostess that, despite the fact that I don't anticipate it being a problem (I know Masa serves foi gras, but I've never read about a meal that included any beef or anything). She said she would write it down just in case. Far from being offended, I appreciated the attention to detail.

Edited by sakana (log)
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Someone asked if $500.00 shoes are worth it. Yes, I wear them to work everyday. Okay so they cost $450.00 and I've had them for years. So the cost per day comes out to nickles and dimes. I really like my shoes. I like great food prepared by a master chef even more than my shoes. But I bought my shoes before the second kid and before private school tuition for the first kid and nursery school for the second kid. (Those with children in a large metropolitan city in America can easily do the math on the costs of those alone). So would I give up sending my child to private school to eat out more often at better restaurants? NON! Would give up other little conveniences to eat out more often at better restaurants? Non. As much as I like great food prepared by a master chef I value my child's education more, the comfort and quality of life of my children more and I value my little conveniences more.

So if money weren't as consequential to me. I'd be calling up Masa right now to make a reservation to see a master chef that is dedicated to his craft and art. It is not about comparing this piece of tuna to the one I had for cheaper at another place. It's the whole experience. As an industry professional I can only say that what Chef Masa Takayama is achieving and communicating with his cuisine is a born of hard work, non-stop persistence towards achieving perfection. It's a pain in the ass position to be in. There are easier ways to make money as a chef. Also sometimes when it's about the "best" ingredients. The ingredients fail the chef, the chef doesn't fail the ingredients. This is the "trap" of the claiming to use only the best ingredients. Mother nature is fickle and inconsistent at times.

I'll eat my words later if he opens a Masa in Las Vegas. :biggrin:

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This last comment, and some of the previous comments about the cost of artwork really make sense to me. To me, a meal at Masa might be worth it not just because of the underlying costs of the experience, but because of the specificity of the meal. If, as some say, some lunch services are nearly empty, this seems like the ideal time to go. You would be sitting at the bar with the sole attention of someone who is at the top of his game. You could interact with him, see how he cares for and manipulates the fish that he has dedicated his life to making into something beautiful and delicious. One thing that makes the preparation of sushi/sashimi really interesting to me is that it doesn't necessarily require vast armies of kitchen personnel to prepare. Your experience can be controlled by one person, or few people. And as people who love food, chefs are our artists. And if Masa is the kind of chef that you respect and admire, having him personally and specifically prepare your food is worth saving your money for. How much might it be worth if the Adrias and Kellers and Gagniares of the world were accessible behind a bar in a restaurant with 26 seats, preparing complete dishes for you? Or for that matter, any of the artists we admire in the visual or musical arts.

Hey, I could be really off base here, I've never been and I'm slowly and surely convincing myself to go.

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  • 2 years later...

I don't know if we would be having this discussion if Masa was serving French food. To me, if you're going to spend serious money at a restaurant, I would think you'd want to put it down for sushi to get the freshest sushi possible. And, I'll point out that for this money, you get to actually taste what a master chef was himself cooked. Masa is the one, with the help of two or three helpers, who's doing all the work. The same can not be said for other master chefs like Ducasse or Keller or Colicchio. As their empires have expanded, those chefs have had to spend less time in the kitchen. Even in restaurants which aren't try to brand itself and roll out other ones across the nation, the chef isn't personally making all the dishes but is taking on more of a supervisory role to make sure that the dishes pass his muster. What would you pay to have Thomas Keller in front of you, making all the dishes personally?

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I don't know if we would be having this discussion if Masa was serving French food.

Sure we would, because no French restaurant in town charges that kind of money. If one did, it would be unprecedented, and would be just as newsworthy (if not more so) than Masa's prices. Edited by oakapple (log)
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. What would you pay to have Thomas Keller in front of you, making all the dishes personally?

American Express Centurion had an ad from Keller once about this...the answer? $25K

Wait a minute, I know I can cook 1/25 as well as Keller. So if anyone wants to give me $1,000, I'll cook for them.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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hmm...it's not like there aren't several restaurants with seasonal white truffle tasting menus at exactly the same price point as Masa.

in addition, once you throw in alcohol (and I'm not talking about ordering an $800 bottle) it is very easy to spend just as much at Per Se or L'Atelier.

as well, the Mansion and Guy Savoy in Vegas also charge about the same as Masa for their tasting menus.

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I can get an average dumpy apartment in my town for about 350 a month, at around 900 sq. feet, I assume that same apartment in Brooklyn goes for 2000 a month. I go out for a surf and turf at the most expensive restaurant in my town, it costs me 70 dollars. You go out to Masa, the most expensive known restaurant(is that a proper description) in your city, you sit and are pampered for hours by a master serving only you and seven others, it costs you 400, and you complain?

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hmm...it's not like there aren't several restaurants with seasonal white truffle tasting menus at exactly the same price point as Masa.

in addition, once you throw in alcohol (and I'm not talking about ordering an $800 bottle) it is very easy to spend just as much at Per Se or L'Atelier.

as well, the Mansion and Guy Savoy in Vegas also charge about the same as Masa for their tasting menus.

I believe Masa's prix fixe is now up to $450. If there are several restaurants in NYC offering truffle menus at that price, can you name them?

Once you consider alcohol, all bets are off. There are numerous two-star restaurants with wine bottles in four figures. Masa has a wine list too, and you can spend megabucks on it, if you want.

What makes Masa unique is that it's the only place in NYC where, no matter what you do, the starting price is $450. No other restaurant comes close to having so high a floor.

Whether it's worth it depends on your appetite for sushi, your disposable income, and what you like to do with that income. Masa is still a pretty good deal compared to courtside seats for a Knicks game, and I think chef Masa's performance is a lot more consistent than the Knicks.

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