by Joey Stewart
It’s like Ford vs. Chevy and Coke vs. Pepsi. Try to tell someone why your favorite sushi bar is better than theirs, and you are bound to enter into an argument just this side of Roe vs. Wade.
I began eating sushi 20 years ago when a friend took me to Royal Tokyo on upper Greenville. Legendary sushi chef Hiko-san turned me into an addict almost immediately. When it burned down and was forced to seek out a new favorite, I became a regular at a couple of Dallas’ darlings. Since then, I’ve resisted trying other sushi bars. Why get your drug of choice elsewhere when you are already getting the best?
Well, after word of mouth from sushi connoisseurs and stellar reviews from local critics, I cheated on my sister establishments and ventured over to Masami to challenge the consensus.
My wife and I entered just as they opened and were sat at the sushi bar, unknowingly in front of owner/head chef Ryo-san. Immediately we noticed the specials listed on two boards and handwritten flyers on the wall. Delicacies such as Whelk and Geoduck that are rarely available at standard sushi bars were highlighted. Intrigued, we started by asking for the chef’s choice sashimi, and out came a beautiful, whole Aji. Ryo went to work and placed sweet, pristine slices on top of the fileted Japanese Horse Mackerel in a beautiful display. After that success, we dove in. Live scallop sashimi, Kanapachi sushi, and Uni were of the best quality we’ve had anywhere. It was evident that they have good sources for their catch. The rice, the downfall of so many, was the right temperature (body temp) and flavor (vinegary with a hint of sweetness). Each of the chefs, Ryo-san, Josh (Ogihara-san), Takeshi-san, Wong and Austin were engaging, amiable, and eager to please.
In subsequent weeks we visited again several times. My wife loves the variety of specials from the kitchen that they offer, and I simply go with Omakase, letting Ryo decide what is best. During a recent visit we were delighted with course after course. Sweet shrimp and scallops in Uni sauce over Tempura Nori? Yes, please. Thinly sliced Wagyu beef Ribeye in a savory broth? Bring it. Below is a pictorial of the evening’s highlights and specials from other dinners.
A native of Nagoya, Japan, Hideyuki “Ryo” Iwase moved to Florida in 1978 and then to Dallas three years later. Coincidentally, the first restaurant he worked at in Big D was Sakura, which shortly thereafter became Royal Tokyo, the place that made me the sushi fan I am now. He also did stints at Aoba, Jinbeh, and in ’99 went to Sushi Sake, where his fan base continued to grow. In 2007 he bought Masami, and the fans he’s garnered over the years have followed him here. On each occasion, we noticed that many customers were being called by their first name as they came through the door. The atmosphere is inviting and non-pretentious.
While you can never talk people out of their favorite sushi bars, addicts demanding top quality always leave room for another find when it arises. Masami, with A-quality cuisine and expert level chefs, certainly fits the bill.
Niku Dofu – Simmered Wagyu Ribeye with tofu, bok choy, onion and enoki mushrooms in a sukiyaki broth
Katsuo Tataki – Seared Bonito, served over onions and topped with crispy fried garlic, radish sprouts, green onion, and topped with fresh ginger and garlic soy vinaigrette
Chef’s Choice Sashimi
Ankimo – Monkfish Liver
Grilled Maitake Mushrooms with Ponzu Sauce
Grass Fed Skirt Steak from Local Yocal, marinated in a Japanese red chile paste, ponzu and sesame oil. Grilled and served over white onions and topped with house-made teriyaki
Sweet shrimp and scallop mixed with Uni sauce served on tempura nori
Chef Ryo-san at workMasami | 501 W. Beltline, Richardson | 972-.783.6800