It is simply the most extraordinary Japanese food Las Vegas has ever witnessed. From the pristine quality and flavor of the seafood to the precision of the presentation, no other sushi bar/Japanese restaurant comes close.
It is also gigantic in size, extraordinarily expensive and probably doomed to failure.
That size (418 seats) is roughly the size of seven Le Cirques.
Foodies the world over were licking their chops when they heard Masa Takayama was opening a restaurant in Las Vegas. “Finally,” they said to themselves, “Accessibility, with maybe prices to match!”
Accessibility? Yes. Prices to match? No. The conceit here is sashimi is priced by the piece (not two pieces per order as in most Japanese/sushi restaurants). This makes Bar Masa at least twice as costly as any other restaurant like this you have probably ever been in. When you factor in $28 orders of fried rice and $34 hairy crab salads, the tariff gets stratospheric quickly.
Is it worth it? Well, yes if you want to taste the most exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth spear squid (yari ika) on earth. Or if you love tiny, rotund sizzling octopus in butter, or you crave the elusive, haunting taste of hairy crab, this is the place.
We did a whitefish sampling along with that yari ika, and found the fish beyond fresh, tasting both of the sea and their particular musculature — a revelation in six small bites. Equally astounding were fresh, small clams in a clear broth; each sip taking you straight to a cold seashore, with the warm brininess of the clams standing out against the smell of an ocean breeze.
Yeah, the food here is that fantastic.
And the staff is as charming and friendly as the food is drop-your-chopsticks delicious. (Although, they are not as well versed in the food as they should be at these prices — see this Epicuryan’s blog for details of similar mishaps with his meal.)
Maybe all that charm an attention was because they only had eight other people to wait on…on a Thursday night.
We at ELV even love the cavernous room (something of a departure for us), but we can’t imagine a scenario where this place can ever attract enough customers on a nightly basis to justify the space, the expense, the staff, and the cost of flying in all that wonderful seafood from Japan every day.
But until they pull the plug, this is a restaurant that no Japanese food aficionado cannot afford to miss.
Our meal pour deux came to $355, which included a $61 bottle of sake and a $50 tip. And yes, we were still hungry.
In the Aria Hotel and Casino
3730 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109