Monday, February 12, 2007

Zen Box

According to Wikipedia, our source for all things, "a masu was originally a square wooden box used to measure rice in Japan during the feudal period." Made of hinoki wood, these boxes became the standard serving vessels for sake. The restaurant that has borrowed that name, Masu, with its original location downtown and a newly opened outpost on NE 28th, has used the little box as an inspiration for some of the best Japanese food I've had in town.

I went there for lunch recently with my friend Kathryn and was blown away by the preparations, presentation and distinctive flavors presented. We started with a salad of translucent slices of flounder sprinkled with roasted red pepper, black and white sesame seeds and fish roe, served with shaved jalapeno pepper and radish. Heaven! This was followed by shiitake mushrooms and steamed squash wrapped in little packets of wonton noodles around a puddle of pureed squash, the whole dish drizzled with green onion-infused oil.

Not knowing when enough was enough, we then ordered a "Butterfly" roll of eel, crab, cucumber and avocado that put us right over the edge with its smoky, fishy creaminess accented by the addition of bits of pickled ginger and wasabi.

I've been a dedicated habitué of Nostrana's lunch menu for noontime meetings with friends and clients, but I'm definitely going to be putting Masu on that same list. And if you go to the website, there's a special password that is good for the first hour of lunch and dinner service that will get the first 15 customers a discount of 15% off their food purchases at the eastside location.

Details: Masu, 310 SE 28th. Phone 232-5255.

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