Friday, October 26, 2012

Masu Sushi & Robata – Minneapolis, MN

D.Rough and I needed a date night, and she was feeling sushi-ish. We had to decide whether to do our favorite place, or try something new. We went for the new option and decided on Masu – we’d wanted to go there since it opened and we’d heard good things about it. To Masu!!!

We walked into Masu and instantly liked the energy there. It was filled with a good mix of people – classy, hipster, college, groups, couples, friends, old, young. Everyone had smiles – it was almost weird, but not quite. The walls were decorated with both giant paintings and also fun Japanese toys. We looked at the food as we walked past, and despite it being dark in the dining room, the food looked fantastic. This was going to be awesome.

We started with the drink menu. It’s got enough items on it to be intimidating. Two pages of sake and then cocktails, beers, and fun drinks. They do have drinks with gummi bears on them, but we skipped those and went right to cocktails. I got a Lamuné Ramuné and D.Rough got a Lucky Millionaire Mojito. The night was shaping up.

The drinks were perfect and just what we needed. D.Rough’s drink was garnished with a lottery ticket – seriously, a scratch off (which we didn’t win), and mine was a pint glass with strawberry sake rum and a bottle of Ramuné (a Japanese kids’ soda that’s fun to open and drink due to the marble that plugs the hole when you drink or pour too fast – I love me some Ramuné).
We ordered a seaweed and cucumber salad to split, and an order of three steamed pork belly buns. The rest of the menu is pretty substantial, so we needed to order something to get our first course out of the way so we could focus on the main course.

Once we got to focus, we asked about the robota – it doesn’t have anything to do with robots, much to my chagrin. It basically means small bits of food (usually skewered) that some restaurants let you cook at your own table and others do it for you – like Masu. It might be the Japanese version of tapas. D.Rough and I thought we’d do a couple of robota items and then a few sushi rolls. We ordered some grilled rice balls, grilled asparagus, beef tenderloin wrapped around burdock (root veggies), and then for the sushi, we got a spicy crunchy salmon roll and a Firecracker roll – shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, cucumber, spicy tuna, and tempura flakes.

The seaweed salad came out and divided it up between us. It was very fresh and not ocean-tasting (in a bad way). The crab was plentiful and the cucumbers and seaweed were delicious. A couple of sprouts, some pickled veggies rounded it off and made for a great light salad.

The pork belly buns were out of this world, however. Two slices of thick and tender pork belly on a perfectly steamed bun with pickled carrots and hoisin. That was exactly what we needed. The next time we go back, we’ll likely both get our own orders of these. They were that good.

The small plate items came out next and looked great. The asparagus was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of char on them. On the same plate were the beef burdock rolls. These weren’t D.Rough’s favorites, but I really liked them. I liked the crunch of the veggies on the inside of the roll. And the dipping sauce was really sweet. I’m not even sure what it was, but it was tasty on everything I dipped in it – which was everything.

The rice balls were grilled – I have no idea how that’s done, but it was. The crunchy bits almost had a nutty flavor to them and the insides were delicious and soft. I really liked these, especially dipped in the sweet sauce. We saw a lot of these going to tables, so I’m guessing they’re a big seller at Masu.

The sushi came out immediately after we finished our small plates. The spicy crunchy salmon roll was good and I was surprised to see jalapeno slices on top of it. I really liked that flavor combination and hadn’t seen it before. It was really quite good.

The sushi winner of the night was the Firecracker roll. It had a lot of ingredients inside it and was covered with sri racha (that spicy rooster sauce). It had a great crunch with the shrimp tempura and the tempura flakes and good substance with the tuna and avacado inside. I really liked this roll a lot.

D.Rough got a finisher cocktail that I was a little jealous of – His Majesty Emperor Albert. It is a plum tea Collins. And it tasted like candy. Wow.

We had a fantastic server, but we actually had a few people helping us out, including the hostess and some other folks. Everyone working seemed happy to be there and all of the people we saw dining looked to be not only enjoying their own food, but raving about it and then forcing their dining companions to try their’ s as well. It was really nice to see – THAT’s what we’re talking about with the high energy place. Not some ridiculous hippie crap.

We look forward to coming back to Masu. Now we know what all the hype is about and we completely buy into it. It isn’t cheap, but it’s fantastic if you don’t mind paying for high-quality food and a fun atmosphere. We don’t mind – we just can’t afford it all the time. Hahahaha. Worth it for a fancy date night with my lady, though. I promise.

Top 5 things about Masu Sushi & Robota
1. Pork Belly Buns
2. Firecracker roll
3. Lamuné Ramuné
4. His Majesty Emperor Albert
5. Atmosphere

Bottom 5 things
1. It is a little pricey, but also high-quality
2. The kitchen is open to the dining room, but the all is so high you can’t see their chefs working their magic
3. Some simple explanations of menu items would make deciding slightly easier (but there’s still so much awesome to choose from)
4. Parking is never fun in Northeast, but just bring your quarters
5. Nothing else is even remotely bad here


Ruby James Vita said...

I live right by there, and haven't even gone yet. Jeaaloouus!

Chao said...

I heard you love sushi, Ruby!