Anyhow, I've decided to make good use of my two days off a week and dedicate the time to a new "project". That's right...a new project. Right off the top of my head, I'll label this project "Eating Beyond Wilshire". It sounds very all-expansive but really, without a car, all it really entails is eating down Westwood Blvd and extending down Pico. But that alone should take me a good amount of time anyways.
So, as an informal beginning to my project (after all, I have eaten at several restaurants "beyond" Wilshire already), I went to Sushi Masu. I've read such great things about this place and, more importantly, it's really been a long while since I've been to a REAL sushi joint. You know, places that aren't fusion or called "California Roll" and the likes.
Sushi Masu is a small place. Personally, I prefer small sushi joints...they remind me of the restaurants we'd go to in Japan and I like the relaxed atmosphere that comes in the small package. Plus, I don't know what it is, but the best sushi always seems to come from the tiny hole-in-the-wall places, which Sushi Masu was.
I grabbed a seat at the sushi bar and already, Chef Masu smiled at me and asked "first time here?" I told him I came ESPECIALLY to try this place and his smile grew even bigger as he semi-bowed his head. I fell in love with him already in those 2 minutes. I glanced over to the hand-written daily recommendations and the first thing that caught my eye: LIVE sweet shrimp.
"Live? It's still moving?"
"Yes. You like?"
"That sounds really interesting. But I've never tried..."
Shrimp in hand. Flick of knife. Live sweet shrimp sushi on my plate.
SOOOO good. It's been a long while since I had something THIS fresh.
Well, the shrimp was the perfect introduction to what this place had to offer...within 5 minutes of meeting him, Chef Masu had already won over my complete trust:
"Give me whatever you think is good today"
A piece of amberjack sushi appeared before me. Into mouth. Melt. Literally. I looked up at Chef Masu, eyes glimmering almost and told him how good that was.
"Next piece even better."
The thing I love about Chef Masu is that he doesn't lie. The next piece - the seared tuna - WAS even better. This was followed by 5 other pieces of the "best sushi I've had in LA so far" (including white tuna and abalone, among others) and a perfectly sweet eel and cucumber hand roll. Every piece I plopped into my mouth induced a huge smile on my face.
My favorite was definitely the seared salmon sushi. I could smell it when Chef Masu was searing it behind the counter and was already excited. Then he placed it in front of me...the way he seared it made it look like a mini piece of art! My excitement rose. Now, the actual eating of it. WOW. I'm still thinking about it right now. The outter part of the fish tasted almost like smoked salmon (which I absolutely love) and just when I was thinking that it was the best thing ever, I was introduced to the melt-in-your-mouth texture and taste of fresh raw salmon. Two of the best forms of salmon in one bite - what more can you ask for? Want to know what love is? It's Chef Masu's seared salmon sushi!!
(Fried Shrimp Head)
And remember that live shrimp I had at the very beginning? They took the head back into the kitchen, fried it, took it back out. Better than fried calamari!! At the end of the meal, I told Chef Masu that the seared salmon was my favorite, to which he replied,
"OK, next time I give you thicker piece".
I'm so looking forward to "next time".
Everything together (including a huge tip for Chef Masu and the friendly waitress) came out to about $45. Like Chef Masu said, I had a "big lunch" today...but it was worth every cent. I was a VERY happy camper.
So yes, that was my "first time" at Sushi Masu. And that's the "first time" to a WHOOOOOOOLE load of more times!!!!
And, to make today even better, after the meal, I nipped into Pink Orchid bakery next door and got a mini tub of Mashti Malone's pistachio ice cream. And, unashamedly finished the whole thing by myself. I rock.
Sushi Masu ($$$)
1911 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025