Restaurant review: Sushi Masataka in Wan Chai – succulent, decadent, perfectly seasoned courses
Chef Masataka Fujisawa, previously of Rozan, has created something special here, with standouts including the uni hand roll, black sea perch and naughty, melt-in-your mouth toro
I tried. I really tried. When I called to book Sushi Masataka, I firmly told the hostess that I don’t eat bluefin tuna. I repeated it to her when my guest and I sat down at the sushi counter and ordered the smaller of the two omakase menus (HK$2,080 for 14 dishes, HK$2,980 for 18). I meant it, too.
But then I saw the chef slicing the toro – three thin slices for each piece of nigiri – and my resolve started to weaken. This is one of chef Masataka Fujisawa’s specialities, something he served at Rozan, which was this restaurant space’s previous incarnation.
There was only one empty seat at the nine-seat sushi counter and chef Masa prepared and served all of us (at many sushi restaurants there’s a hierarchy, with the chef’s assistants preparing items for the guests at the outer edges of the counter). Guests are encouraged to pick up the sushi with their fingers, and a small finger bowl is provided.
The meal started with a cold dish of shiro ebi (baby white shrimp) with uni and edamame. The tiny white shrimp were very delicate, with a nice sticky texture.
Of the 12 pieces of sushi that were served, there was only one that I didn’t like: the ika (squid) was cut into beautiful, very fine, precise dice, but that wasn’t the problem – the wasabi was slightly too strong. But on everything else the seasonings were perfect.
One of the best dishes was a humble fish: iwashi (sardine) that was grilled briefly over charcoal. The heat brought out the fattiness of the fish and the result was a succulent, decadent bite.
The akamutsu (black sea perch) was excellent for its rich texture and flavour. Other favourites were the cool, soft and buttery ankimo (monkfish liver); the akagai (ark shell clam) with its crisp, bouncy texture; the pink-fleshed masu (river trout); and the uni hand roll, which the chef handed to each guest as soon as he made it so the crisp seaweed contrasted with the slightly warm rice and cool, rich sea urchin.
I resisted the marinated tuna that was served to everyone else and was perfectly happy with the substitute of lightly vinegared gizzard shad that was cool and refreshing. But the three layers of tuna? I told chef Masa that I wanted a piece of that, and he quickly carved off three thin slices of the o-toro. It was amazing – so fatty it almost melted in the mouth and left a lingering flavour.
The savoury courses ended with a really delicious miso soup. This was followed by fruit (a not particularly sweet cherry and a peeled grape) then tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) – not, obviously, the kind you find at cheaper sushi restaurants, but the very fine, slightly sweet, cake-like tamagoyaki that’s made with mountain yam and shrimp.
Sushi Masataka, The Oakhill, 18 Wood Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2574 1333. Dinner only (two seatings, at 6pm and 8.30pm) for HK$2,080 or HK$2,980 plus 10 per cent
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