Umami - Review - Masa, Bristol

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Review - Masa, Bristol
Author: Victoria Jones

Visited 9 Feburary 2014

Last weekend I went out for the evening with possibly the most impossible party to cater for. There was me (a vegetarian who can’t eat chillis, ruling out most vegetarian-friendly cuisines like Indian and Thai), my partner (who demands meat with every meal) and our friend (who is allergic to wheat). It didn’t help that we headed out at around 6 – missing most of the places who only open at lunchtime on Sunday. We meandered through the city, determined to try somewhere new, before ending up in Baldwin Street with a few possibilities in front of us – we opted for Masa, a Japanese restaurant which usually has live cooking in the Teppenyaki style. Although I’ve had a few Japanese dishes before (mostly ramen-based) I’ve never been to a fully Japanese restaurant and am not overly familiar with the cuisine, so was excited to try something new. The decor was nice – quite minimal looking apart from the bamboo across one wall.

We spent a few minutes navigating the menu before ordering – my friends going for traditional Miso soup and a Sushi plate, the Masa Take Set (with one type of sushi substituted for a wheat-free alternative), with myself ordering the Tofu Donburi – a rice bowl stew topped with tempura-fried tofu. Pricing seemed a little sporadic – the soup came to around £3, the donburi was £6.50 and the sushi plate came to a whopping £17.80 for 8 little pieces of sushi. The dishes also all came out at separate times, with the soup being long finished before the other two dishes even came out. However, I am given to understand this is fairly normal in Japanese restaurants – it wasn’t really a problem, just a little unusual.

Once the sushi and donburi came out the price difference was made even more confusing – my rice bowl was HUGE compared to the sushi dish! However, all the food was delicious and thoroughly enjoyed by each of us. The staff were also very helpful towards my wheat-free friend, and very knowledgeable about the dishes and ingredients, always a great sign in waiting staff who are so often undertrained. I also got to take home half of my donburi, as I mentioned it was HUGE. It’s not like me to leave food when I go out, but I only managed half of this monster dish! Definitely £6.50 well spent there, and they even put a fresh set of those fab snappy chopsticks in with it to take home (don’t scoff, you know you love them too)!

I’d love to go back on a livelier evening when the Teppenyaki-style live cooking displays are in full swing, though I’d definitely opt for one of the better value dishes like Donburi or Ramen again. To me the sushi seemed quite expensive, however I understand it is labour intensive and not much cheaper even in chains like Yo! Sushi.

Article by Victoria

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