For my birthday, my husband and I celebrated at Bar Masa, a Japanese restaurant that we have looking forward visiting to since arriving in New York. Located at the south end of Central Park in Columbus Circle, Bar Masa neighbors some of the city's most revered establishments including Per Se and its sister restaurant, Masa.  However, Bar Masa differentiates itself by offering a more casual approach to an amazing dinner experience, that is - exquisitely avant-garde food in a relaxed setting.

We had a ten-course dinner with the following items:
  1. Caviar with toro - luxurious, but what do you expect with caviar?
  2. Summer tomato and avocado salad - very imaginative, a medley of incredibly silky textures with soft tofu and avocado melding together, and infused with sweet summer basil flavors
  3. Kobe yakitore - good, but something I will skip next time as it is probably something you can have at most other Japanese restaurants
  4. Maitake with shaved truffles - highly recommended, second best item
  5. Dancing fried shrimp - a clever creation and highly recommended, I rank this dish at the top of what we ate at Bar Masa. The shrimp shells were semi-attached, lightly battered, and deep-fried resulting in a crisp, light, wafer-like chip, juxtaposed by the tender juicy shrimp flesh. Impressively imaginative!
  6. Toro shabu shabu - good, but something I will skip next time
  7. Cod with daikon in soy broth - very good, well-prepared cod basted by a rich soy and daikon broth
  8. Chicken and scallions udon - skip
  9. Lobster tempura roll - highly recommended, and good enough to order twice at one sitting
  10. Miso creme brulee - highly recommended, it sounds weird to have miso in a dessert but it translated into a buttery caramel popcorn tasting creme brulee that was at once luxurious and comforting.
Bar Masa is well-worth a visit, but save it for a very special occasion.