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Tim McKee and Masu

There have been several reports of Tim KcKee working as a consultant on a new Japanese place, Masu Sushi and Robata, to be housed in the old Let's Cook space at 330 E. Hennepin.

Tim, please include Ramen on the menu so we can get our fix!!!

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Let's Cook
330 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

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  1. We were at the NE Pumpkin Grab yesterday and I know the Let's Cook awnings were up, but didn't notice if he Colliers signs were still in the window.

    Well this could be delightful. I hope to hear more.

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    Let's Cook
    330 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

    1. Anyone living in NE has been curious about Masu, which took over the old Let's Cook store on 4th and Hennepin. Much to my surprise, while walking to Whiteys on Hennepin, I see the door open for Masu with some of the chefs inviting us in! The space is large, and such a huge transformation from Let's Cook. The space is white, modern, simple with splashes of color here and there of paintings on the wall. There are 4 or 5 japanese games located near the bathrooms. This space to me seems to cater not just couples, but group of friends wanting to enjoy a great meal!

      There will be four components to the menu: Appetizers good with beer and sake, sushi (Do you remember Asan from Origami? He's been missing in action for 2 years and he's the sushi chef at Masu) robata and noodles. I was extremely interested in the noodle portion. Chef McKee told us he did a lot of research and found a custom noodle shop in LA that makes noodles specifically for Masu.

      He provided us a little tasting of dried squid with sriacha and mayo - as well as pork belly ramen with soft egg, seaweed and bonito flake broth (see picture). The squid is different, nothing I have seens on any japanese menu. It is a fun little snack to chef on while drinking sake. Chef McKee also provided us a tasting of the other 3 broths, curry, miso and the standard bonito for us to try. To my palate, the broths were a bit too salty, probably from the bonito. But I am very excited to see how he pairs the broth to the ramen, soba or udon along with the accoutrement.

      Chef Alex Chase will be executive chef. Chef Chase has followed Chef McKee at Solera, La Belle View, Sea Change and Barrio. He also has worked at Vincents and Fuji-ya.

      Assan, originally from Origami will work the sushi counter. I think this is just a huge asset to Masu. Anyone who has met Assan and tasted his food will know he is a class act!

      The drink menu is created by Johnny Michaels. We tried the Happy Gummi (ginger and peach) and the Angry Gummi (wasabi).

      Although there was no set menu at the time I viewed Masu, Chef McKee said much like Seachange, Masu will be serving only sustainable fish/seafood. He also told me there will be around 30 items for robata.

      Grand opening is April 18th - make your reservations early! I am extremely excited about Masu. Chef McKee told me this was not a fusion restaurant but classic Japanese. It will be interesting to see how this restaurant will stand against the heavy competition in Mpls and St. Paul. No matter what - this is going to be a GREAT addition to NE Mpls.

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      Solera
      900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

      Let's Cook
      330 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

      Sea Change
      806 Second Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55415

       
      3 Replies
      1. re: MNLawGirl

        Thanks for the great run down MNLawGirl. That looks like Shabu Shabu, was there some sort of hot pot element it looks like they prepared it for you? Also did you get to see any of the Robata in action that sounds interesting. I'm glad to see they are bringing in a proven sushi chef and trying to bring some of the trendy Japanese cooking styles in from the coast.

        1. re: astadtler

          No hot pot element - but again, he was just providing us a quick tasting. We also did not see the Robata in action. All he would tell me is that there will be 30 proteins on the menu. The menu will remain consistent, though there will be specials. I'm very excited for this to open!

        2. re: MNLawGirl

          thanks for the info!
          If they are concentrating on classic J, then I'll definitely give this place a shot. Fusion has its place, but there are too few places in town that actually care to get Japanese cuisine right imo.

        3. for those interested, masu seems to have done a soft opening this weekend, with valet, etc. the crowd outside looked pretty hip, though not exactly on the young/youngish side. be interested to see some reviews on this place in the next few weeks.

          1 Reply
          1. re: soupkitten

            Thought I would add the place link.

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            Masu Sushi and Robata
            330 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          2. HeavyTable posted an article today on the preview dinner at Masu. I was glad to see that HT corrected the executive chef's statement about no other place doing robata (Obento-ya does great robata) and noodles (Tanpopo rules!).

            http://heavytable.com/preview-dinner-...

            1 Reply
            1. re: AnneInMpls

              My friend and I stopped in around 8:30pm, on opening night. The place was fairly packed - but we were able to get the last table in the bar. I was excited to try a selection from izakaya, sushi, robata, noodles. However my server informed us that the kitchen was out of tuna - both albacore and yellowfin. That meant most of the specialty rolls were out. Head of house told me they had a fairly big showing during lunch, when the tuna ran out - and then got slammed for dinner. Our server kept coming to our table telling us this selection and that selection of fish was no longer available. I'm sure they will make note of this when they make their next order. Good thing is they get the fish shipped every day. I was told there will be tuna tomorrow!

              My friend got the jumbo shrimp robata and was not impressed - I did not get to taste it but I think had she picked a different seafood or meat, she may have enjoyed it more.

              I got the beef udon - sliced short rib in a rich beef broth (the broth was much improved from my walk in last week) edamame, enokitake mushroom, scallion and udon. What impressed me before with the pork belly ramen (see my post April 9th) was the ramen itself. The ramen didn't get that slimy texture noodles tend to get when sitting in broth for too long. The problem with the pork belly ramen was the broth itself. It may have been over-reduced because it was extremely salty.

              The beef udon was completely opposite. The udon was slimy, but the broth was rich, luscious even. The edamame provided great texture. Despite the slimy udon, I'll be back again.

              My server was attentive, but it was clear she did not know the menu. My friend asked for suggestions with the appetizers and the robata, but the server really didn't offer much. I asked how the noodles were prepared and what was in the broth, and she was unable to answer. I know it is the first day and she definitely seemed flustered. I just hope Chef McKee schools his serving staff with the contents of the menu.

            2. Went last night and had a lovely experience.

              The highlights for us were the perfectly formed nigiri (the rice was the closest to perfect I can recall having in MPLS), the oyster shooter, a very reasonably priced carafe of Yuki No Bosha, the pork belly ramen and a commitment to sustainable seafood (which means no unagi, bluefin, big eye, or their requisite toros). They'd run out of abalone, which is to be expected, since it is a rarity on menus here and the scallop tasted singularly of lemon, but everything was delicious, fresh, and great with drinks.

              Service is still getting it's legs, but was warm, welcoming and had the best intentions. Tim stopped by every table which was a nice touch, and our kid was pleasantly accommodated.

              The only downside is that Masu is in such close proximity to Obento-Ya. The menus are eerily similar (though I don't think Masu has takoyaki...). Obento-Ya will continue to be our go-to izakaya, and Masu will be reserved for taking guests or when we need a table for more than four...regardless, a welcomed addition to the neighborhood and we're looking forward to many an extended happy hour here.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Foureyes137

                I went last night. The sushi was fine. Almost indentical to Origami. The real story is the noodles. I tried two of the ramens. They were both oustanding. The porkbelly ramen was very falvorful and the noodles were fresh, The broth tasted great. The curry ramen was also really tasty. Great curry flavors. I loved also the Ebi Yakisoba. The robata was also tasty. I really liked the ribeye robata. I would go back for the noodles. We just don't have this quality anywhere else in this town. It was great seeing Tim running around making sure everyone was happy. He is a great at what he does.

              2. I went to Masu a little over a week ago, but am just getting around to writing this review now . ..which in a sense sums up how I felt about the experience. Good, but not great. I really wanted to LOVE it but I had to settle for just liking it. Good location . . .good quality Sushi for MN (veyr much like Origami . . .but the rolls are a bit more inventive) . ..good noodles . . .good drinks. Hated the atmosphere (why was it so bright?? And so big?) The bar area was cool and had a hip vibe, but the seating area left a lot to be desired . . .bright, big, impersonal. The good was good . . .but not the stand out I was hoping for. That said . . .my highlights were
                -The Pork Belly Ramen . . .delicious. Tender. Rich
                -The bacon wrapped tofu robata
                -The Yellow Submarine roll

                1 Reply
                1. re: mnplsfoodelitist

                  Dissapointing to see so many bad reviews...I was excited at the menu.

                2. We went to Masu last night and felt the way many others do - good but not great. The space itself is extremely loud and service was okay, but not extremely attentive. The sushi was fantastic - the best fish we've had here in the Twin Cities. Beyond that, the duck gyoza and ramen soups were mediocre. I had the pork belly ramen and felt that the flavor was quite flat. Very disappointing after all of the raves I've heard about it. My husband had the curry ramen and it was extremely salty. He was desperate for a glass of water and because no one came to refill our carafe, he eventually had to grab the 1/2 used one from the vacant table next to ours!

                  I would definitely go back for sushi, but for overall Japanese cuisine Tanpopo and Obenta Ya are much better and have a nicer atmosphere.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: katebauer

                    Good not great seems to be a reocuuring theme for Masu. The Ramen was good but didn't blow me away...maybe my expectations were toohigh. The Aji (Horse Mackarel) was good, and I appreciate them frying the head. Oysters was another item done well but missing something. Didn't have much sushi but the Uni was fresh and flavorful. There was nothing to complain about the robata...it was cooked well and tasty. After reading that Tim McKee wanted to keep this a traditional Japanese restaraunt and not go fusion like Nobu I think he has delivered on solid Japanese food. We are probably expecting too much as he is our Star Minnesota chef. If I lived in the neighborhood I think I would be a regular.

                    1. re: kriminalrat

                      That's the thing with Ramen. People's expectations are IMHO way too high. It is after all simply Ramen. Good broth, decent noodles and delicious pork. No matter where you get it at it all pretty much is in the same neighborhood of quality. I have eaten at some of the best Noodle Shop's in NYC and San Francisco and can't remember them ever being elevated to a level much higher than Masu's.

                      1. re: Fudist

                        Get to United Noodle's deli and get a bowl of pork ramen, spicy or not. Spike it with some added BBQ pork (sold by weight and sliced up for you).

                        They are closed mondays.

                    2. re: katebauer

                      I think Masu is suffering from lack of consistency since Tim Mckee has left. Aside from the sushi - the front of house, kitchen, even the cocktails are not consistent.

                      I still believe they are having serving staff issues. I will get a server who is constantly hovering around our table at the beginning and then completely disappears once the meal is ordered. It is funny because the last time I went, I ordered the curry ramen. It was ridiculously salty and all I wanted was to chug water but my carafe was empty! Another frustration is that dishes do not come out together. My dining partner and I may each order 4 different dishes, yet one will get a dish leaving the other to wait.

                      I will continue to go to Masu because it is in my neighborhood. But it may be awhile before I make my next visit. I do not want to forget Obento Ya - and I hope other chowhounders won't. Hopefully the next time I visit, the food and service will make me want to come back for more.

                    3. We went this weekend. I'll agree on the inconsistent service. My food arrived, and I had to ask for chopsticks.

                      The food itself, though, was very good in my estimation.

                      The Uni and Habanero Masago sushi were both excellent. I enjoyed the whole sardine on a stick (not the proper Japanese name), and thought the sausage and bacon-wrapped quail egg were standouts as well.

                      The pancake dessert (think cakey tacos stuffed with a bean granache) was tasty, but unspectacular. I wanted a bit more depth, since the dessert was on the savory side.

                      I didn't try the ramen, so I can't speak to that, though the miso was surprisingly flavorful.

                      I would definitely return.

                      1. Has anyone been recently? I'm going on Thursday night for the first time and would love to hear a recommendation on what's good and/or if there's anything to avoid.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: baa

                          I work around the corner, have eaten there a few times; haven't had anything that I would avoid. Some co-workers of mine went for lunch (4) gave the server a set price for each of them and asked the chef to make what he wanted to make. They took pictures of what came out- one of the most gorgeous displays of sushi I've ever seen. Really creative and they all raved.