North Jakarta's Hidden Gem: Sushi Masa

October 22, 2014 Ellyna Tjohnardi
Being born into a modest family means eating Mum's cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A meal at KFC would be occasional treat that I remembered I got very excited about, even if it involves walking on foot to the nearest KFC restaurant. Japanese restaurant was absolutely out of the question. It was not until I went to high school, that I first knew the concept of sushi and Japanese food.

Sushi Masa

I suppose that was partly why I couldn't quite grasp the idea of eating raw meat or raw fish / seafood. I used to turn them away in disgust and never gave it a try. However, when I started blogging, I started to open up myself to a whole lot more variety of food, such as goose liver (foie gras), beef tartare and sashimi. At least, now I know what they taste like, but given the choice, I would still choose something else over raw parts of an animal.

Getting There
Sushi Masa is located inside a fish harbour 'Pelabuhan Perikanan Samudera Nizam Zachman', which is like Jakarta's version of Tsukiji Fish Market or Manhattan Fish Market.  The location is pretty isolated, that it might be difficult to get a cab from the restaurant unless you call to order. To enter the harbour, each vehicle (not each person) will be charged a small fee of IDR 1,500/entry. Inside the harbour, you'll see a lot of massive warehouses, whoever would've guessed that almost towards the end of the harbour, there lies a tall grey building, which houses a casual fine Japanese dining and a specialty seafood and frozen goods supermarket?

The road leading to the harbour is pretty straightforward, but quite slummy and rather narrow at certain sections due to the unkempt settlement. I don't mind the road, but I loathe the mad motorbike riders who ride like they own the streets! So be careful when you're driving.

The tall grey building is pretty noticeable from afar, but don't expect to find any signpost or neon box with the word 'Sushi Masa', because your hope will be in vain. If you see this building, you're in the right direction already.

Here's what the 3rd floor looks like:

Sushi Masa
The crowd on Saturday night, reservation is thus recommended to make sure you get a table
Sushi Masa
Left: Japanese chef preparing sashimi
Right: The counter table
Sushi Masa
Deboning the fish


The Menu
Sushi Masa offers a Daily Special menu, that included fresh catch of the day, such as Kinki Hokkaido (for IDR 1,200,000 only), or if you fancy a serious treat, why not opt for the Omakase for IDR 1,200,000/person. For diners on a budget, Sushi Masa has affordable offering, the Moriawase or Donburi sets for less than IDR 150,000/set (already inclusive kobachi, salad, tempura, rice & soup). Otherwise, you can come with a big group of friends and sample its various dishes, such as what I did with my foodie friends.

The Food
It was my first time visiting Sushi Masa and to be frank, as a neutral seafood eater (meaning I don't loathe not love seafood), I'm quite indecisive or rather, didn't dare to choose, for I fear I might choose the wrong dish that might ruin my appetite for seafood forever. So I let my friends made the choices. 

Ei Hire or stingray fin
Ei Hire or stingray fin IDR 50,000/portion
Ei Hire or stingray fin
Ei hire, grilled on the spot and best consumed immediately after grilling
Chawanmushi and Age Gyoza
Left: Chawanmushi IDR 25,000
Right: Age Gyoza IDR 35,000 (4 pcs)

From the Makimono, we had the Spicy Tuna Maki and California Maki. I have to say that this has got to be one of the best maki I've ever had. I particularly love the spicy tuna maki, that's bathed in yummy crispy crumbs.
Spicy Tuna Maki and California Maki
Spicy Tuna Maki IDR 45,000 (6pcs) and California Maki IDR 45,000 (6pcs)

From the Sashimi/Sushi, we ordered the Beef Aburi Sushi - exquisite, thinly sliced, torched beef slices on top of sushi - as well as (tuna) Maguro Sashimi and Salmon Belly Sashimi. I never thought I would enjoy eating raw fish that much, that I felt quite guilty

We tried some of the Cooked Dishes as well: Black Cod Shioyaki Set and Salmon Misoyaki Set (the set comes with miso soup and rice). There's no going back from here, the tender and slick fish meat was truly delectable. I just didn't understand how could fish taste this good and why I did not like fish?

Beef Aburi Sushi
Beef Aburi Sushi IDR 35,000/pc
Salmon Belly Sashimi and Maguro Sashimi
Salmon Belly Sashimi IDR 35,000/pc and Maguro Sashimi IDR 15,000/pc
Left: Maguro Sashimi | Right: Grilled Salmon Misoyaki
Left: Maguro Sashimi
Right: Grilled Salmon Misoyaki
Black Cod Shioyaki Set
Black Cod Shioyaki Set IDR 120,000
Salmon Misoyaki Set
Salmon Misoyaki Set IDR 70,000

Sadly, the only dessert that's offered here is Hokkaido ice cream, well, there are some pretty interesting flavours such as genmaicha, walnut, yuzu and salted caramel. But we decided to close the bill and headed to Pantai Indah Kapuk afterwards for a proper dessert fix instead.

I left Sushi Masa with a much better appreciation for fresh seafood and sashimi. The prices here are not as affordable as other sushi joints that can be found in shopping malls, but not as exorbitant as in some high end hotels. Then again, quality comes at a price, this is one mantra that I has not failed me so far.

*) Prices are subject to 10% Tax
**) Ocha (hot/cold) is free

Opening Hours: Tuesday - Sunday (closed on Mondays):
Lunch: 11.30 – 14:00
Dinner: 18:00 – 22:00
Reservation is highly recommended

Sushi Masa
Jl. Tuna Raya No. 5 (click to open in Google Maps)
Tall grey building, next to BNI Bank branch, 3rd Floor
Muara Baru Ujung - Pelabuhan Perikanan Samudera Nizam Zachman
North Jakarta

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