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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Masuya, Sydney

Mulloway jewfish Masuya's way $23
Masuya's signature dish of jewfish fillet with a carefully rolled potato net,
oven baked till crispy and served with dill lime butter sauce and soy infusion

Do you remember French Fries? Those crinkly red packets you'd get from the corner shop that held a mountain of potato straws? Those chips would last you forever if you nibbled on them, as I did as a kid, one by one.

The potato net around Masuya's signature jewfish dish takes me straight back to my childhood. A circle of chips surround a squat column of fish fillet, a Japanese twist on fish and chips. The delicate sweet flesh of the jewfish (mulloway) contrasts with the crunch of potato batons, the entire dish basted with soy and dill lime butter.

Salmon belly aburi $3.80 per piece

Despite its hidden location in the basement level of a Sydney CBD office block, Masuya has no problem filling its dining room with eager customers. Its reputation for fresh sashimi and sushi has much to do with it, as well as its comprehensive menu that runs from oysters to tempura, and tonkatsu to hotpot.

Tonight the dining room is buzzing with people. A sushi chef at the back of the dining room works behind a station laden with fresh fish and seafood. I'm dining with Suze and Dave, and a helpful place card on our table tells us exactly who our server will be tonight - she is all smiles with a deferential demeanour.

We start the night with salmon belly aburi, orangey-pink slices that have been blowtorched on the surface, that adds a smoky dimension to its buttery richness. The salmon, we're told, comes from the Tasmania Huon region, although at $3.80 per piece it's a mouthful to be savoured slowly.

Blue fin tuna belly sashimi 8-piece combo $50
Ootoro fatty belly and chutoro medium fatty belly

Blue fin tuna belly sashimi arrives as eight precious slices resting on perilla leaves. Ootoro is prized as the fattiest part of the tuna belly, so intricately marbled that it almost resembles beef.

Ootoro fatty tuna belly sashimi

To our surprise, we find the ootoro strangely fibrous and chewy. The medium fatty chutoro is much more tender, the melt-in-the-mouth flesh graduating in colour from peachy pink to a deep crimson hue.

Nasu miso $8.80
Deep-fried eggplant with Masuya's original miso paste

Eggplant with miso is a must-order dish on all of our agendas. I never tire of eggplant done in this style, the pulp unfailingly cooked to a creamy softness, heightened by the basting of sweet and salty miso paste. After everyone has scooped out the insides, I perform my usual disappearing trick by eating the remaining eggplant skin - it is too good to be wasted.

beef tataki
Beef tataki $13.80
Subtly grilled rare grain-fed beef sliced sashimi style
served with ponzu-soy citrus dipping sauce

Beef tataki is another dish that is afflicted by a disappointing chewiness. Even the accompanying ponzu-soy dipping sauce can do little to save it, the paper-thin shavings of beef needing more of a gulp to swallow it down.

miso oyster
Misoyaki oyster $18.80
with oven-baked creamy miso sauce

Topping oysters with miso sauce is not how I'd normally appreciate these briny bivalves but I'm keen to go along for the gastronomic ride. Broiled under the grill, these shells perched on mounds of sea salt are tongue-scorching molten lava pits in disguise. David discovers this as soon as the whole oyster is deposited into his mouth, his eyes widening in silent pain.

I find the miso completely overwhelms the oyster, the sticky sweetness of miso dominating the palate.

wagyu beef
Wagyu beef miso (230g) $32.80
Marble score no. 6 sirloin with miso paste sauce

Wagyu beef miso is plated in a Western style that looks a little out of place compared to the rest of our dishes. Here, the miso sauce is subdued slightly, and better counterbalanced by the boldness of beef. Despite the marble score of 6, we find the steak a little on the chewy side as well.

kingfish wing
Kingfish wing nitsuke $16.80
Cooked with mirin, soy, ginger and served with tofu

Much more of a hit is the kingfish wing nitsuke, two enormous portions of fish that hold a lot more flesh than you'd expect. The kingfish flakes easily, and the marinade of mirin, soy and ginger is comforting and sweet.

green tea ice cream
Green tea ice cream $4.50

Full bellies do not stop us from ordering dessert, and after some deliberation and negotiation, we end up ordering four desserts to share amongst us.

Suze only has eyes for the green tea ice cream, a parfait glass filled with two icy cold scoops, accompanied by a dollop of sweet red bean paste and garnishes of strawberry and orange.

rice cakes
Zenzai $4.80
Sweet red bean with rice cakes

Zenzai is a heartier dessert, a thick soup of sweetened red beans bobbing with five balls of starchy chewy rice cakes.

tofu cream cheese cake
Tofu and cream cheese cake $6.80

Curiosity had drawn us to the tofu and cream cheese cake and we're rewarded with a dessert that is light and fluffy with only a hint of a yoghurty tang. The taste of tofu cannot be detected at all - if anything it seems to have given the cheesecake a silkier consistency.

green tea creme brulee
Homemade green tea brulee $6.80

But its the homemade green tea brulee that has everyone leaning forward with anticipation. We crack through the rink of toffee and revel in the smooth and elegant custard that is generous with matcha green tea. Even as the tables empty around us, our spoons end up duelling each other, furtively seeking the final scrapes at the bottom of the ramekin.

Masuya Japanese Seafood on Urbanspoon

Masuya Japanese Seafood Restaurant
Lower level, 12-14 O’Connell Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9235 2717 / 9231 0038

Opening hours:
Lunch Monday to Friday 12pm - 2.30pm (last order)
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6pm – 10 pm (last order)

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23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/26/2010 01:56:00 am


  • At 8/26/2010 2:34 am, Anonymous marvs@eatmarvin.com said…

    The Brulee looks nice! :)

  • At 8/26/2010 2:55 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    Sorry that you had a disappointing experience at Masuya. I only been there once, I find the seafood is fresh................................. and that's it.

    Oh, the kingfish wing tips is good though. :)

  • At 8/26/2010 7:28 am, Anonymous Fiona said…

    For that price it sounds utterly disappointing :( May have been better off going to sushi world...

  • At 8/26/2010 8:04 am, Anonymous Trissa said…

    I've always thought the sashimi at Masuya has been reasonably prices and always fresh. I love the kingfish fin and am always ordering that with Ellie. The desserts? Uhmm. No comment! But I've got a voucher I still need to use up. Thanks for reminding me I need to go soon.

  • At 8/26/2010 10:09 am, Blogger Hannah said…

    Ah! Yes! Those French Fry chips! I ate them exactly the same way, slowly slowly nibbling so they lasted forever :)

    I want those desserts. All of them. Desperately.

  • At 8/26/2010 10:23 am, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    The fish all looks quite fresh, shame about the beef though. Sounds like perhaps it's the place to go for dessert though! Mmm green tea ice cream and green tea brulee!

  • At 8/26/2010 11:11 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Bummer about the chewiness! Normally chewy is awesome, but I guess that wasn't the case with you guys :(

    I found French Fries chips in a vending machine the other day. Gold!

    Did the green tea brulee end up pleasing you all in the end? It looked so good.

  • At 8/26/2010 11:13 am, Anonymous Matt (Masterchef) said…

    $50 for 8 pieces of tuna! Holy shmikeys

  • At 8/26/2010 11:29 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    Oh golly that sashimi is very pricey. Was it worth it?
    The eggplant looked wonderful though

  • At 8/26/2010 11:35 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    mmm aburi salmon i likes the burny taste

  • At 8/26/2010 11:50 am, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    I often order bird's nest at Chinese restaurants because the nest reminds me of those french fries :) Have the prices at Masuya gone up? It would be worth it only if the food is fresh (and not so chewy!).

  • At 8/26/2010 11:56 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    I found the beef tataki to be quite tough as well when I was there, and it's a shame that even the ootoro was a bit chewy too. Must try the miso eggplant and kingfish wing next time, they both look awesome!

  • At 8/26/2010 11:58 am, Anonymous Anna Johnston said…

    Can I have all of them...., Mmmm, they all look amazing, but I absolutely have to have the oysters & the tuna. Awesome pictures too.

  • At 8/26/2010 12:35 pm, Blogger Gummi Baby said…

    I so love finding a good new Japanese restaurant and this looked very promising (you had me with the potato encrusted mulloway) but perhaps I'll stick to the fish! :D

  • At 8/26/2010 8:11 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    OMG, I love those French Fries! I used to eat them one by one, but now find I go through an entire pack just a little too quickly... :S

    I like the looks of that salmon aburi..! drool...

  • At 8/26/2010 11:18 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    Masuya, sacred site where I tried my first aburi salmon, love at first bite!

  • At 8/27/2010 12:32 am, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    Masuya how I miss you so. I love the food there. I have never had a bad meal there. Uhhmmm although I dont rate their deserts.

  • At 8/27/2010 6:25 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    I used to love those french fry chips - although I have to say I had a salad made with them in Portugal last year and it was quite disappointing - sounds like your experience was as well!

  • At 8/27/2010 7:44 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Nice looking food line up, shame about the chewiness. The eggplant sounds nice and it looks like I'd have to duel you with chopsticks for the skin. I love it!

  • At 8/27/2010 10:46 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Friends and I found the ootoro a bit sinewy as well! And similarly we enjoyed the chutoro more, which is contrary to what we thought and to experiences that we've had elsewhere.

  • At 8/28/2010 10:02 pm, Blogger WX said…

    Hahahah Helen I used to nibble on those french fries all the time as well. Always felt like a chipmunk.

    Shame that you experienced so much chewiness - the eggplant looks ridiculously good though.

  • At 9/06/2010 1:56 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Marv - It was totemo tasty!

    Hi Billy - lol. The kingfish was great, and yes I think we definitely should have ordered more sushi!

    Hi Fiona - I wouldn't say that! lol. I think we should have ordered more sushi :)

    Hii Trissa - The kingfish was lovely. A shame there's not more of it available on Sydney menus.

    Hi Hannah - Glad I'm not the only French Fry fan. They'd last forever!

    Hi Angie - I was quite disappointed in the beef, but yes the green tea brulee did make amends!

    Hi Margaret - ha, yes I do like my glutinous chewiness and ack, French Fries in a vending machine? Was there a rainbow leading to it? lol. The green tea brulee was fab - lots of matcha goodness.

    Hi Matt - It was rather exxy. The chuutoro was sensational though.

    >Hi Brenda - We loved the chuutoro which was really soft and buttery and the eggplant was tasty!

    Hi chocolatesuze - Someone needs to get you a killer blow torch... hmmm....

    Hi OohLookBel - lol. I always cringe at birds nests but hey, when you compare them to French Fries that's completely different. lol. I think we should have stuck to more sushi in hindsight.

    Hi Jacq - Ahh sorry to hear that you suffered chewy tataki too. The eggplant was delicious and the kingfish wing is definitely worth ordering!

  • At 9/06/2010 2:01 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anna - Thanks, glad you enjoyed the pics. The tuna was very fresh and tasty.

    Hi Gummi Baby - The potato on the mulloway was great and I agree, always worth finding out about new restaurants!

    Hi Tina - lol. Another French Fry fan! I really must try making my own salmon aburi sometime too!

    Hi YaYa - Love it :)

    Hi A Cupcake or Two - You must return. I quite liked the Japanese cheesecake and the green tea brulee was yum.

    Hi Gourmet Chick - A salad with French Fry chips? I like the sound of that! Maybe a little tweaking required!

    Hi John - I'm pretty good at chopstick battles. Actually any battle involving food. lol

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - Such a strange thing isn't it? The chuutoro was so much softer.

    Hi WX - Heh, or a little mouse :) The eggplant was lovely.


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