Las Vegas Dinner #3: Bar Masa sushi

March 17, 2010


Ngiri sushi from Bar Masa (photo by Steve Dolinsky)

Dinner number three takes us to the new Aria hotel again, where Bar Masa is tucked between Sage and Julian Serrano. I’ve been dying to try this place, ever since I read Frank Bruni’s review in the New York Times five years ago, talking about how Masa at the Time Warner Center was sooo worth the $400-$500 price tag. The Bar is a bit more casual, and from what I’ve heard, in New York, it’s a tiny thing. In Vegas, it looks like an airport hangar, with the tables spaced far apart and the menu reaching for stratospheric prices. One highlight from the “chilled” section of menu, right after salads: ohmi beef sashimi with garlic soy…$89. WTF? Does that come with a massage? I think it’s so-named because after you order it and try it, you say to yourself, “oh my, how in the world did I ever decide to order that?”

If you’re cashing in your bonus from AIG, you could try the masa toro with caviar for $240 or just a simple grilled maitake mushroom roll with black truffle for a more reasonable $34, but there is so much more to this menu than just sashimi and maki rolls. Think amadai (snapper) skin that’s been fried until the scales have popped out, making the tiny piece look like a piscine porcupine. Starters of sea cucumber poached in Genmai-cha tea are common, as are spicy dancing shrimp (shell-on fried prawns) seasoned with spicy salt and lemon. You could probably navigate a lesser expensive meal if you were careful. We thought the ngiri and maki were pretty great, but not sure it’s worth the inevitable $150 per person you’re going to drop (which you’ll have to double if you’re drinking premium sake).