As a boy, Masayoshi Takayama worked for his family’s fish market in a town of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, delivering fresh sashimi to neighbors on his bicycle. The seed of his love for food planted here, grew throughout his eight-year apprenticeship at Sushiko in Tokyo’s Ginza district, and blossomed in the form of Masa in New York City.
Masa is the city’s only three Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in the city, and one of only six three-Michelined star restaurants of any kind in all of New York. The 26-seat restaurant has no menu. Diners receive whatever the chef has prepared for that given meal, but it’s easy to trust a chef as lauded as Masa Takayama.
From the outset, Masa has been an enormously expensive restaurant. When Masa opened in 2004, guests were paying $300 a head for a meal. Over the years, the price has gone up not only from the cost of doing business, but also because of Masa Takayama’s commitment to providing his employees with a more consistent and reliable paycheck. Masa was one of the first restaurants in New York to eliminate tipping altogether, in favor of a service-included price. Currently, diners will likely spend $400 – $750 per person for a 26-course meal.
This high price accommodates both the restaurant’s high rent, located in the Time Warner building, and the enormous cost of importing the restaurant’s ingredients. In order to keep Masa supplied with fresh Japanese seafood, the chef set up a small company near Tokyo’s airport to ship purchases from Tokyo’s legendary Tsujiki Fish Market. The money made from the restaurant also supports this company. This system allows Masa to receive the highest quality ingredients in a marvelous location.
Those who have dined at Masa, and getting in isn’t easy, have said that the experience wass fully worth the cost. What do you think? Would you be willing to pay upwards of $400 for a single meal?