Legendary Chef Masa Opens New Restaurant in TriBeCa
On Thursday night, chef Masa Takayama—widely known as chef Masa—is opening his latest restaurant. Fittingly called Basement, it’s located beneath his yakitori concept Tetsu in New York’s TriBeCa neighborhood.
Masa is a man of superlatives. He was the first chef to earn three Michelin stars for a Japanese restaurant in the U.S., at his eponymous New York restaurant, Masa. His L.A. restaurant Ginza Sushiko, originally located in a non-descript stripmall, famously held the title of Southern California’s most expensive restaurant for most of the ‘90s and early aughts. (Really, is this not the eternal contradiction of Los Angeles? Here’s looking at you, Trois Mec.) At $250 a pop, Ginza Sushiko was pricier than Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in the northern reaches of the state, even though fewer people seemed to have heard of it, for some reason. Still, it was the stuff of legend.
Currently, a meal for two at his New York flagship Masa stacks up to more than $1300. This doesn’t just make it the most expensive sushi restaurants in the country. It makes it one of the most expensive in the country, period, as reported by Food & Wine.
After the chef closed his L.A. restaurant in 2004—the space now houses Urasawa, a very similar style restaurant by Masa’s legendary former sous chef, Hiro Urasawa—Masa opened up his self-titled restaurant in New York’s Time Warner Center. Thomas Keller, who was in the process of opening Per Se in the same complex at the time, invited him to come. So he did. With this omakase (chef’s choice) sushi concept, he became one of the few chefs in New York City to be crowned with four stars by the New York Times. It’s since been downgraded to three—still categorized as “excellent”—but the heroism of the feat endures.
Basement will be a bit cheaper, but it’s still a pretty penny. This is unsurprising, as kaiseki cuisine is the most ceremonial and extensive style of Japanese dining—more than the middle-of-the-road Kappo-style or the informal, bar-centric izakaya. Basement will run $350 per person for a protein-heavy smorgasbord of whole squab, A5 Wagyu and fish. The menu will change each evening, and will feature a balance of grilled, steamed, roasted and fried elements.
According to a press release, chef Masa will be on hand at the 39-seat restaurant, at least for the time being, so you can expect to catch a glimpse of the esteemed chef if you go. It’s currently open for dinner Wednesday through Friday only.