Friday, December 14, 2012

Masu NE Minneapolis: Part One

Masu in NE Minneapolis was popular before it even opened it's doors to the public. I remember driving by, so pleased about sushi so very close to my house. Then it opened, and I never went! Shame. So I decided that my birthday dinner this year had to take place there. I didn't have a good idea of how many people would actually come, so I called far in advance to notify Masu that I wanted reservations, but the number of people could be between 6-12. They told me that they can't split bills with parties that size. I tried to explain to them that people may come and go at different times. The girl on the phone expressed some doubt and hesitance. I got uneasy at their capability at handling small groups. So I decided to wait on the reservation, and do a happy hour test drive of Masu, which I've decided to review as Part One.

Although Masu's happy "hours" are nothing uncommon (M-F, 3-6, yadda yadda), the specials are decent. $3 sake, $4 tap beer, $5 wine, and $6 for the popular Sochu Gummi Sours, which are normally $8. The food varies from $2 at the cheapest (kappa sushi) to $11.5 being the most expensive (Firecracker Roll.)

Photos of Masu can be found easily, and for good reason. The space is modest, colorful but dark, sleek, and ornate. With dramatic wall sized geisha-style models, Munny Dolls sprinkled about, sake barrels stacked, and of course the Pachinko machines. The centerpiece to this moderate space is the sushi bar, halved with the actual bar, which gives it bar-height seating. I bustled in and hunkered down.

People have mentioned that there's a high energy to Masu. That it can be noisy, even frantic. I found it to be none of those things. I found the atmosphere to be run of the mill Japanese restaurant; trendy, aesthetically pleasing, sufficient. No stress vibes at all.

I was very curious about the Sochu Gummi Sours. I love gummi bears, and I love Sochu (which is like sake, but stronger.) I chose the Lovey Gummi (japanese cherry blossom, green tea) after my helpful server described it. I also ordered the Ginger Glazed Chicken Wings ($7), and the Poke Futomaki Roll (marinated tuna, wakame seaweed, scallion, avocado, cucumber - $8)

Sochu Lovey Gummi
The drink came out in less than 10 minutes, and I was a bit disappointed to see how small it was. The pictures I had seen of them before looked like they were served in a pint glass. Sadly, they are served in a small round glass, like the kind you get a cocktail in at a dive bar. I personally found this popular drink to be ho-hum. It was tart, not sweet, and not substantial enough. Especially for a regular price of $8. Yikes! There are many more intriguing cocktails here for $1-$2 more. If I had that much money to spend on a drink (never) I would buy a specialty cocktail instead of another Sochu Sour. Even for $6 on happy hour, not worth it.

Ginger Glazed Chicken Wings

The wings came out within 15 minutes, and were served with a damp, hot towel. The flavors were mildly sweet, with a touch of heat, and a hint of sesame. The meat wasn't substantial, nor meager. They were not fatty or chewy. I've encountered many a succulent wing, and this comes in a few notches below them. Tasty, but not dynamite.
Poke Roll

They serve the rolls on your own wooden plank, and Masu places important on presentation. This was by far the best Futomaki roll I've ever had. Not in the sense of the combination, which is fairly standard. But the textures, the structure, and the absolute freshness make this an exceptional sushi roll. The fish is the star, the avocado co-stars, and the cucumber reminds you to use your teeth. 

My total = $28.98, including tip. Not a steal, but not bad for what I got! Stay tuned for the birthday blog!
Masu Sushi & Robata on Urbanspoon

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