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Michelin Star Power: Masa and the Carefully Crafted Art of Sushi

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Chef Masa

Every sushi lover worth their sea salt knows that Masa has three Michelin stars (one of only six three-starred restaurants in all of New York City, ahem). But did you know it’s the only three-starred sushi restaurant in the entire country.

How has Japanese luminary Masayoshi Takayama maintained those stars for the past seven years? And, let’s get right to it, at a fixed price of $595 including tip, what makes the cost worth it?

First, Chef Masa spares no expense to fly in the fish straight from Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji market, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. This is melt-on-your-taste-buds seafood, plucked from the ocean and airlifted to your plate in a matter of hours. Literally, the best in the world today, gone tomorrow.

Second, it’s simply about the food. According to Michelin spokesperson Tony Fouladpour, “it’s not about how fancy the silverware or the napkin is… it’s about the food on the plate; and if it’s great, it receives a star.”  Masa has three stars.  Three.

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Masa food
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And what’s on that plate?  As the Michelin guide notes, “expect phenomenal aji mackerel with grated yuzu, traditional unagi, and an indelible finish of toro temaki.” Not to mention the unexpected marriage of briny sea urchin with earthy shaved black truffle; the counterpoint of osetra caviar’s saltiness against the mild fattiness of toro tuna and the genius of a dusting of fresh Parmesan on premium sushi.

This is a man obsessed with perfection. As Chef Masa explained to Eater.com, “every kind of dish is prepared to be served right away. This has power and energy right there. I don’t want you to miss that. In 10 or 15 seconds, it changes.”

Michelin inspectors continue to bow at this shrine to Japanese cuisine and it’s no wonder. After surrendering to its culinary power, we bet you will too.

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