You know you’re special humans when you and the birthday girl catch an uber to a venue she booked and end up in a restaurant on the SAME street with the exact SAME name of the place you are meant to be at. I mean come ooooon.
The Masuya I’m talking about is the one on the left of the other Masuya on O’Connell Street. There’s a bright blue sign and a bunch of stairs before you get to the finish line. Once you arrive, it’s all minimal decor, dark wooden wall panels and blonde timber furnishings. This is the sign of an authentic-style Japanese restaurant and judging from how elaborate the fit-out is, I assume we’re in for the real deal food-wise too. We’re a table of fifteen and we inevitably over-order from almost every category on the menu.
The first dishes arrive swiftly on our tables and nod to the freshness we’ll soon discover with each plate. There’s a reason this place has over 13,000 reviews on Zomato.The Salmon and Avocado Roll ($16.80) is brought out on a long white platter and is as good as sushi gets really – perfectly vinegared rice, unctuous salmon and creamy avocado. My fave sushi combo of all time.Next we receive two vividly hued salads – the Organic Tomato & Green Salad ($9.80) and Tofu & Avocado Salad ($10.80) – to whet our appetites for this food fest we’ve signed up for. Dressing is entirely necessary here as each would be bland without some zing – wafu onion is quite a traditional condiment too.
By now, our stomachs are prepared for an onslaught of deep-fried gluttony. Chicken Karaage ($12.80/ entree) and Karaage Soft Shell Crab ($14.80/ entree) battle it out for the crown and both are spot-on – a loud crunch upon first bite, well-seasoned and with soft, sticky innards. That crab now overtakes soft serves for the keys to my heart. Or maybe that was chocolate. Or matcha. Whatever – we mustn’t diverge!Next is the menu item everyone’s eyes glaze over for – the Masuya Sashimi Boat ($79) – oysters, scallops, hokki, tuna and salmon sliced with the utmost precision. If you want theatrical eating, this is the epitome of it. Each boat is almost two metres long and decorated lavishly with forest green leaves, ice, lemon wedges and twirls of shredded daikon. WOW! No really, this was spectacular. Each bite of varying seafood is soft and silky – salmon and scallops win me over but the hokki sliced ever so delicately is pretty impressive too. Best of all and an obvious indicator of freshness is that there is no fishy scent.This is the ‘undo the belt’ stage of the night, with the table slowing their haste and enjoying light-hearted conversation. Agedashi Tofu ($9.80/ large) is golden tempura-coated tofu swimming in an amber sea of sweet dashi sauce. Looks deceive this time with the sauce lacking the sweet stickiness that everyone knows and loves about this kind of tofu, even edging towards bland.Oh well, no time to dwell as we are hit with yet another fried beauty: the esteemed Hokkaido Scallops ($24.80). These are imported from Japan’s Hokkaido region, crumbed, fried and served with house-made tartare and tonkatsu sauce. Oh my gerd this is good. My stomach is crying out for me to stop but bite after bite, the mellow tartare with the tangy tonkatsu sauce and crisp outer, soft inner of the scallops just work wonders together. I can’t believe we had more food to come!My body goes into slumpy ‘I need to sleep this off and my stomach is shutting off the lights’ mode but I soldier on regardless. Because that’s what you do for really good food. The Sapporo Hot Pot ($55) is brought out in different stages – first the waiter lights the stove, then a pot of watery broth with salmon, blue swimmer crab, scallops, pacific oysters, chicken, fish balls and seasonal vegetables are placed on top and begin boiling rapidly. Soon after, a small jug of soy milk is swirled through, a splodge of sweet miso paste is added and you eat away! I’m not going to lie I couldn’t even appreciate the freshness and sweetness blending together in harmony within this dish. One mouthful and I was too far gone. But I don’t think I enjoyed the flavour combo as much as I thought I would either.
To top off this unbelievably gluttonous night our baker queen friend had spent countless hours that day in order to create a Kit Kat Nutella Cake which was so beautifully decorated and out of this world good. Because there is always room for more when Nutella is involved.
Masuya Japanese Seafood Restaurant, (02) 9235 2717, 14 O’Connell Street, Sydney NSW 2000. Find them on Facebook.