330 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414
On Sunday evening, Jake took me to Masu for another Bucket List Chronicles outing and to preemtively celebrate my birthday.
My pictures are rather blurry. I dislike drawing attention to myself and making a scene with flash photography. It's only a matter of time before I invest in a better camera.
This past weekend, we found a lovely, new dwelling in Fargo and my friend and her husband graciously introduced us to our new hometown. Car rides often make me queasy, so I did not indulge in much Fargo food. However, we caught up over beers at JL Beers and I tried a bite of Jake's absurdly inexpensive blue cheese burger. I look forward to slinking around the The Hub's "intimate Asian inspired bar" called Forbidden, drinking "sexy sake."
In all seriousness, I look forward to making connections with Fargo foodies, blogging my heart out, and learning how to make the foods I can not conveniently order for take-out.
Back to Masu
I love Japanese food and am fiercely loyal to Minneapolis's Obento-Ya. Not that I do not love sushi, but I am even more excited about Japanese restaurants' bento boxes and izakaya offerings. We were promptly seated beneath an Asian woman's massively painted glower.
To begin, I ordered a sparkling plum lemonade.
This lemonade was well-balanced in an eyebrow raising sort of way. Normally, I am not a fan of lemonade, but this version was smooth, striking a rounded balance between sweet, sour, and acidic.
Out of curiosity, I ordered the Reba, a chicken liver and scallion robata skewer. I like foie gras but neither Jake or I had tried chicken livers.
For $3, we received three chicken livers separated by tender scallion, basted in a delicious glaze. The skewer rested on top of sweet, thinly sliced yet crisp pickled vegetables.
At first bite, the chicken livers were charred and had a meaty bite and flavor. This sensation gave way to a soft, chalky, mealy texture with a livery/mineral flavor. Neither of us fell in love with the chicken livers, but I liked the carbonized char and the slightly spicy glaze.
For dinner, I ordered the vegetarian Teishoku, a set meal, $18. It was described as containing "Vegetable Tempura, Oshinko Maki, Shishito Peppers, Ume Shiso Inari, Miso Glazed Eggplant Robata and Seaweed Salad."
From this point forward begins the "Holy Sugarbucket Batman" sentiment.
Let's begin at the Ume Shiso Inari, located at the bottom left of the picture. Inari is a type of sushi in which a thin tofu pouch is stuffed with sushi rice. This version was topped with a fresh shiso leaf and what I believe was a piece of salty, pickled plum.
At first bite, I was struck by the sweetness of the inari, which gave way to a piquant pickled plum punch. If not for the salty and lip puckering plum, I would have had more difficulty eating the inari due to its sweetness.
Pictured below is the Oshinko Maki, sushi made with pickled vegetable which is usually radish. The pickled vegetable was sweet, crunchy, and flavored differently than other pickled radishes I have tasted in the past. The roll's pickle contained a pungent flavor I can only describe as reminding me of cumin.
My seaweed salad was abundant and fresh. The top garnishes provided fresh textural contrast. However, the salad tasted sweet. One-notey sweet. I kept dragging bites of the salad through soy sauce to counteract the sweetness.
This eggplant robata nearly made me angry. I adore eggplant and its creamy, gushy texture. I have enjoyed the eggplant robata at Obento-ya and was anticipating a similar dish. What I actually received was nicely grilled, but tasted nauseatingly sweet. I dipped my finger into the accompanying glaze. The moment my fingertip touched my tongue, I immediately recoiled as if someone flicked me between the eyes.
Although the eggplant is described as miso glazed, I desperately missed the salty miso component that would have provided a balanced umami component.
Frosting. It might as well have been frosting.
The set contained a large portion of tempura vegetables including adorable little mushrooms, slices of squash and eggplant, and onion blossoms. The tempura came with a light, slightly sweet dipping sauce.
The vegetables were cooked nicely and the eggplant was meltingly tender, but the batter was thick and chewy. The batter had also absorbed oil to the point where it kind of seeped. The tempura was not inedible, but it was difficult to eat more than a few pieces before my stomach felt unsettled.
We both really enjoyed eating these coarsely salted shishito peppers. They were tender and their skins were blistered and smokey. The majority of these peppers were sweet. We smiled when we bit into the rare, spicy rouge pepper. Ideal to share, too oily to covet.
For dinner, Jake ordered the Beef Udon, $12, with "Braised sweet and spicy short rib."
Jake enjoyed his bowl of noodle soup, though he was surprised by the meat's sweetness. I thought the broth was rich and flavorful, though, it was intense. I would not have been able to slurp a large amount of soup without palate fatigue. I really enjoyed the short rib which was as tender and silky. I found the meat to contain sweetness but felt it contrasted nicely with the salty broth.
Overall, we felt our meal at Masu was interesting but nothing struck us as overwhelmingly craveworthy. I felt that many components of the meal were unnecessarily sweet. My favorite aspects were the sparkling plum lemonade, shishito peppers, and short rib in Jake's udon soup. The eggplant and its miso glaze were horrifyingly, sugary sweet.
I have heard so many positive reviews of Masu's food and wonder if we just ordered the wrong menu items. The food wasn't flawless, but I always enjoy embarking on new food adventures with Jake.
Happy birthday to me and happy two year anniversary to us.