MASA at Yonge and Charles
Just went to MASA, off of Yonge and Charles for their Japanese buffet. We almost never have buffet but just went to try it on a whim. This is one of those 'made-to-order' buffets wherein the food is prepared as you order it but it is all you can eat. To prevent sloppy overeating the menu indicates 0.50$ is charged for any uneaten rolls.
The menu is diverse but not in the areas I would like- there's the basics like miso soup, salad. They have a good selection of rolls with eel, spicy salmon, spicy salmon skin, california, and others. There's ordinary rolls of cucumber, salmon, etc. as well. We were really looking to have sashimi but they only had red snapper and salmon which was dissapointing. Many hot mains included a number of tempuras: shrimp, crab (processed meat), vegetable, and yam and grilled terriyaki: port cutlet, beef cubes, salmon, and vegetables. I didn't include everything but those were the significant items as far as I can remember.
This is a Chinese-owned operated place and it shows through the food. The quality of the food is fairly consistant and acceptable but the presentation and skill in preparation is somewhat lax. The terriyaki beef was a stiff but not chewy, the salmon a little dry. The rolls were good but were simply not tightly wound and lacking in the 'good stuff' (I really liked the eel rolls still). The tempura however simply wasn't good at all; it was the very heavy-handed kind of batter that was very thick, dense, and oily. The tempura weighed down everyone but of course was finished.
Service was courteous and relatively prompt. Had to wave down a waitress once or twice for tea but there are many around. I imagine most of the buffet dishes are semi-prepared to 'scoop when ordered' so we recieved our order quite quickly.
I guess this is really better suited as hot 'japanese-style' dishes then for sashimi/sushi fish. The buffet was 17.99 (I think) but is 1-2$ less off of weekends. A much more limited lunch buffet is available and an a la carte as well as takeout menu is always available. In the end, I wouldn't mind returning to the place but to try the a la carte menu. The lack of fish and/or unique dishes in the buffet along with the poor tempura would discourage and limit my choices and would take the fun out of choosing. Still, the room is decorated nicely enough and it's a good location. I might add they have a very large space that's used and divided nicely - there were several large tables there and I can see it being a good place to take a large group.
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Second this thought. i went there a few weeks ago, and was severly disappointed. the sushi was clearly made by amateurs, and a good portion of their menu is fried....
If i could recommend a more authentic experience, i would say you could cross the street and head to tokyo kitchen. it's a small place that is connected to the green p parking garage.
for the most part, the patrons are all japanese... and for good reason. their sushi/sashimi is average, but they do really great donburis and udon. my personal favourite is the katsu-don or the oyako-don. it's the only place in the city i've been to that serves it the right way, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
I have only been at lunch, midweek, with reservations phoned in advance. Everybody was courteous and service was excellent. I go every four months with somebody. It is centrally located, and for $10.95, it is a terrific deal. I'm not there to eat a lot and stuff myself, neither am I there to eat the so-called high end foods. There are plenty of choices, so I dabble - a little of this, some of that, mostly fish.
I am satisfied. Life is good.