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Oct 16, 2009 07:48 AM

Review: Masa 14

This is a new GIGANTIC swanky place that just opened on 14th Street between T and S. I guess it has one of the longest bars in DC or something. Apparently it's supposed to be fusion Latin and Asian, involving two notable chefs including the guy behind Kaz's sushi. When we showed up last night (Thursday, around 7:30) without a reservation, we opted to sit in the bar which actually includes a number of small (tall) tables with chairs. The decor is industrial chic, pretty nice though the seating was a little awkward at these mini bar tables (I was sitting on the banquette, putting myself at a considerably lower altitude than my boyfriend sitting on one of the tall chairs across the table from me.)

We ordered four dishes to share: a jicama and seaweed salad, pulled beef tostadas, a rolled maki spicy tuna, and a rolled maki vegetarian. I definitely think we would have ordered more food if we hadn't been extremely calorie- and budget-conscious lately. It looks like you have to order 3-4 dishes per person here in order to have a filling meal. The food was good, I enjoyed all of the dishes especially the spicy tuna roll. I had a too-sweet Sauvignon Blanc although I had specifically asked for a recommendation for a dry white wine. Nothing mindblowing here, but I guess it was more consistently good than my one experience at Zengo, which seems to be an extremely similar concept.

I hear they also have a roof deck which we will hopefully take advantage of in the spring. It definitely feels more like one of the glitzy Penn Quarter restaurants, just set down in U Street. Some people might be excited about this development. It's not really my thing, but I think it's pretty good for its genre.

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  1. Any more reviews on Masa 14 yet? Heading there tonight and would love advice on menu items.

    7 Replies
    1. re: KWynn

      Based on yesterday's Washingtonian chat, I'd confirm my reservation and have your whole party there on time!

      1. re: monavano

        ha--yes, I had already read that!

        1. re: KWynn

          Am likely posting too late for KWynn but while initially excited about Masa 14, we weren't blown away at the end of our first evening there. Party of 4, all arrived together, on time - early, even - for a 9 PM reservation and weren't seated until moments before 10. Hostesses were gracious, kept apologizing ("the party at your table has paid the check but is lingering") but it did make us wonder - in this mammoth, cavernous space, there wasn't another open table in the ensuing 50 minutes to make available to us?

          Anyway - finally sat and while the service was spotty (opening week), the food was more even...but not really memorable. There wasn't anything really off about any of it, and some of the flavor profiles were quite intriguing, but there wasn't any one thing that made ANY of us say, "wow...you guys REALLY need to try that" and to me, that's truly the sign of a winning restaurant/chef/dish. Presentations were sloppy in some cases, and dishes are quite small - I think our hungry four top polished off between 10-15 small plates. I didn't have a great experience in the past at Zengo, either, so maybe its just not my type of cuisine. More impressed with Zentan, which quietly opened down the street at Thomas Circle in the Donovan.

          I'd go back to enjoy tasty cocktails at the loooong & lavish bar they have there, and its definitely a nice spot to meet larger groups for a drink or two, but I don't think I'd return for dinner where food would be the focus. Just my $.02.

          1. re: nycreba

            Were you offered a drink at the bar while you waited an unbelievable hour for your table?
            Either you should have been offered a drink at the bar, or the folks occupying your table should have been in order to turn the table.
            Personally, I would have walked.

            1. re: monavano

              Kind of funny that you ask this...we felt the same way. Not entitled, by any means, but in a "hey, you just opened - don't you kind of want to make this up to us?" sort of way...
              We were all a little surprised no one came by to soothe any ruffled feathers. No round of drinks gratis, no tableside apology.
              I don't know if you ever read Kliman Online under the food tab of washingtonian.com, but apparently someone had a very similar experience to ours, only much, much worse:

              Scroll 2/3 down the page and you'll see a rather long post from someone who had a simply horrid evening at Masa 14. Talk about should have walked...

              1. re: nycreba

                yes! I did read that -with my jaw agape. It will be interesting to see if the restaurant writes in to give their side of the story.

      2. re: KWynn

        Here were some highlights from my visit:

        Hijiki salad
        Black cod
        Crunchy shrimp
        Pork belly tacos