Sushi Masa is a locals’ joint, the kind of place where everybody knows your name; by the end of the night they knew mine, too. It isn’t hard to make yourself known: There’s a kitchen, a counter, two tables and a few seats, so conversations are shared, to which there seem to be no beginning or end. Thankfully the food has more consistency.
Sushi Masa lies somewhere between the ubiquitous unfussy kaiten-zushi restaurants and the upscale fashionable places where one is awed into silence (by anticipation of the fare and the bill), but in terms of price and atmosphere it is closer to the former. The elderly master’s sashimi cuts are generous; in fact all the portions are quite large. He said little to nothing, as his wife pottered about taking orders, serving customers and making small talk.
We started with sashimi: salmon, maguro (tuna), squid and kanpachi (a type of yellowtail, but tougher than hamachi). This was followed by unagi (eel) draped in wakame (seaweed). It was a nice dish to see off the season of the eel.
What followed was a first for me: thin slices of whale meat, which had the appearance of white radish, and with little flavor but for the tangy miso sauce. It had the toughness of squid, but not as rubbery. Once is probably enough.
If you’re looking for reasonable sushi and you don’t mind being treated like the furniture, try Masa.
7-1 Kurosaki-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka; 06-6371-0825; open daily 5-11 p.m; nearest stations Nakazakicho, Tenma; smoking OK; around ¥3,000 per head; no English menu; no English spoken.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5