Monday, July 23, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
Better than the food court, Masu Sushi opens at the MOA
Turn your head away from the steady stream of shoppers and it's not hard to imagine that the new Mall of America restaurant is the Nordeast location. The geisha walls are there, complete with the ability to count her eyelashes. The snappy, bright green tile, the long, easy curve of the bar, even the blinking pachinko machines made the move. It's all here, only on a smaller scale.
Even many of the same faces were there on our first visit, from chefs Tim McKee and Stephan Hesse to executive chef Chris Olson, who will be running the Mall of America location. It's more Minneapolis than the From Minnesota with Love store.
The second location of the collaboration between the James Beard Award-winning chef McKee and Sushi Avenue opened Sunday. With a lot of crossover from their original location's staff, it's not just the room that feels familiar.
Johnny Michaels's drink list is available at the new location, along with many kinds of sake. The only thing about the bar that was diminished is the beer list, featuring fewer, but well-selected, taps.
Katsuyuki Yamamoto, better known as Asan. The smaller space, meant the bar had to be condensed and there isn't enough room for a master sushi chef on the floor. After tasting the sushi, though, it's the same quality that fans have come to expect in the original.
Sustainable sushi reigns supreme
The Mall of America menu has a few new additions. We sampled the Chinese-style Char-Siu, a barbecued chicken skewer, which was tender and a little sweet, in the same flavor family as teriyaki sauce.
Pork belly and Char-Siu Robata
There are also a great assortment of Niku-Man, steamed buns, a dish we observed several tables of children happily chowing down on. The dough is pleasantly chewy, with little bits of meat. The fried tofu was a wonderful texture, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, but lacking flavor. The shrimp tempura was perfectly cooked and full of utterly fresh, sweet, fat shrimp.
At first taste, the new Masu hits all the same notes as the original. Mall dining just got a little more interesting.
Sake flights at the mega mall