Masa Would Be Mortified

ELV note: We interrupt our regular programming — i.e., our march through the 50 Essential Restaurants of Las Vegas, in descending order —  to bring you a few words about Bar Masa.

What you mainly feel, after the anger subsides, is a sense of relief. The sort of relief that only comes from knowing you’re free. Free from the pull of perfection. Free from dark thoughts that pull you back in, time and again. Thoughts of passions and pursuits. Chasing the high. Never getting enough.

Before relief sets in, there’s a twinge of sadness. Like finally saying goodbye to an affair that was no good for you. It could be a drug habit, or a batshit crazy lover, but either way, you know the time has come to say goodbye. And then you get mad. Real mad.

“What the hell happened to you?” you say to yourself.

Over and over you say this to yourself.

“I loved you…worshiped you,” you keep thinking.  “Defended you when others, many others, attacked you, and told me you were no good for me. And now you’ve done this to me and I realize they were right.”

And let’s not even talk about all the money I spent.

It was so wonderful at first. A frenzy of sensuality. A high unlike any I’d ever experienced. There was a rush. A dilation of pupils. An “oh my god!” factor from my first taste of your sinful pleasures.

And now it’s all gone to hell. And you know it. And it’s all your fault.

So I’m pissed. Really pissed. Because I realize it was all an illusion. An illusion designed to separate me from my wallet.

Sure there might’ve been some honest passion there at first. I felt it. Saw it. Tasted it. You can’t fake that intensity.

But then something changed. Old habits die hard. People revert to form. Money becomes more important than emotion. Product gets stepped on. Best behavior takes a back seat to the almighty buck.

Where once I slurped upon your glistening and gleaming skin, all I see now is limp, haggard and dry. Muscles that were taut and firm have become flabby and forgotten.

The delicacy of your makeup is now slipshod and done only with expediency in mind. Where the starch in your soul once sung, now there is only the mush of mendacity.

Your garden — once a source of  fascination as I picked through its leafy wonders, is but a soggy and limp semblance of itself. Once, warm inviting liquids of lust fairly oozed from your pores; now they taste only of salt and surrender.

You’re like an old whore who, with enough makeup  (and booze), still thinks she can command her tariff of ten years ago.

You can still fool most of them, you old slut, but I’ve seen you in the light of day and it’s not a pretty sight.

Your pimp would be mortified.

It used to be I couldn’t get enough of your charms. Now, I don’t want you at all. The spell has been broken.

But I’m relieved. Relieved of always thinking you were the best, of always holding others up to your (now abandoned) standards. Relieved of spending my time and energy and money on someone who no longer deserves it.

But I don’t hate you. No, I just feel sorry for you….and anyone stupid enough to pay your price.

I will remain an addict of course. A relentless, tortured pursuer of the voluptuous pleasures of the flesh that you once provided me. My libertine ways will find other outlets. Already, my head has been turned by newer, prettier, cheaper things. Lithe, lewd little lovers with something to prove. They are what you used to be, you fat bloated cow.

Thank you for setting me free.


Aria Hotel


8 thoughts on “Masa Would Be Mortified

  1. Nicely written, but perhaps a “I’m sorry for your loss” is also in order. I never went to Bar Masa based on other reviews that price far outstripped experience, though I oft considered it because you and a few select others seemed to feel that it occasionally was worth the price – now I guess I needn’t worry about it anymore.

  2. tortured pursuer of the voluptuous pleasures of the flesh that you once provided me.

    So poetic. LOVE IT.

  3. John,

    I haven’t eaten at BM since my departure in 2011, but I have kept in touch with some of the staff. Lack of surprise to find this review, barely scratches the surface. Mortified does it some justice.

    It pains this Big Dumb White Boy to read this article. I reminisce about sharing fresh Kinme sushi, toro caviar, and chicken karaage (I believe you still hold some unofficial record for pleasure derived from the latter). The passion with which everyone poured fourth these and every other delicacy during my watch, is now a sad monument to futility.

    Despite the cost of your meals, the price of being disappointed is innumerably higher. For that, I am truly sorry.

    Even though your relationship with BarMasa has been sullied, always remember that perfection, and beyond perfection, is approachable. There will forever be those of us chasing it’s coat-tails.

    As always, thank you for your honesty. It is to be commended and celebrated.

  4. Rather than put out this cryptic, general attack on the chef, why not describe the actual experience.

    Dopey article.

  5. ELV responds: Evisceration of any (un)worthy carcass can be done with a finely-honed blade, or a hacksaw. “Dopey” obviously doesn’t appreciate the difference between the two.

  6. Twice I’ve had the black truffle maitaki dish, complemented with an obscure Japanese beer bartender Susan recommended. Excellent. Never had anything else from the menu and don’t expect to. One of your more eloquent reviews, John. Next time I’m in Vegas I plan to try Raku and Nobu, maybe some other places but I really don’t go to Vegas for Japanese food.

  7. In June 2011, I posted here on ELV indicting JC for abetting in the theft perpetrated on me by Bar Masa. Why did it take so long for ELV to catch up with what the non-ELV status dinner at Bar Masa has known since the place opened? This is also a great example where Yelp IS useful in making dining choices. I rely on many sources for choosing where best to spend my dinning dollars and being guided by the comped experiences of ELV and not heading the 2.5 rating warning on Yelp was definitely a poor choice. Note that Kabuto has a deserved 4.5 rating.

  8. ELV responds: Kevin Y seems to be saying that, because he did not consider his meal worth it in 2011, our effusive praise (based upon our special treatment) was misleading.

    For the record: We have eaten six times at Bar Masa since it opened in 2010. One of them was comped (the other was a partial comp/freebies provided, if memory serves) and we paid with our own money (and were unrecognized) for the others.

    Up until our final, atrocious dinner for one, we considered the experience worth it IF you could afford it or “someone else was picking up the tab.” (As we said in the first sentence our Eating Las Vegas book.)

    Our opinion was always based on the quality of the fish, and other raw ingredients, and how well they were treated. Whether the tariff was “worth it” is always a subjective matter (cf. is a $200 bottle of wine really “worth it”?), but the food used to be exquisite here, and sadly, no longer is.

    Whether Yelpers ever had enough knowledge or experience to appreciate what this place once was, we will leave for them to debate over their next spicy tuna roll at Sushi Fever.

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