Why a $600 Sushi Dinner is a Bargain

Think of it this way: At least you won't need to tip.

If you're planning to hit New York City's triple-Michelin-starred sushi temple Masa starting in March, you'd better be prepared to drop $600, and more, on your dinner. Per person. The prix-fixe price is about to shoot up to $595, plus tax—thanks in part to the restaurant's new no-tipping policy; it's the latest to jump on board the no-tipping trend that's sweeping high-end NYC restaurants. But snag seats at Masa before March (on Valentine's Day for instance), and you'll pay a mere $450, though you'll need to leave a tip. And bet that your V-Day date is going to talk you into the white truffle ice cream, for $68 extra.

So what are you getting for those prices? For one thing, it's a radical transformation of any idea you previously had about sushi. The omakase (chef's choice) feast at Masa involves course after course of raw and cooked dishes starring mostly seafood imported from Japan, including many types of fish the likes of which you're rarely going to see Stateside, from kinmedai (a fatty deep-sea snapper) to lusciously sweet red shrimp and seasonal fish fresh off a Tokyo flight.

Your glistening, delightfully obscure sushi specimens will arrive impeccably sliced and riced (it's all about the precision knife work and the warm, perfectly vinegared rice) by chef Masayoshi Takayama and his team. You might also taste things like Ohmi beef, more premium and costly than Kobe, and truffled uni risotto. For best results you'll want to sit at the bar, facing the action. 

To commune with seafood on that level, and never ever think about sushi the same way again, you'd normally have to fly to Tokyo. And try desperately to get into a place like Ginza Harutaka or Sukiyabashi Jiro (yeah, that one). And probably fail. So $595 plus a cab ride, or a domestic airfare, is at least...a lot cheaper than that? 

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