Masuya International’s Izakaya Masuya is a surprising Japanese restaurant in the heart of Sydney city on O’Connell Street. Serving a variety of dishes and drinks not available anywhere else, including a sake tasting set of five, this is a must visit for anyone looking to do something a bit different with this kind of cuisine.
We went there early during the week and found it to be quite busy. Bookings are essential and, as we didn’t have one, we were put on a large table with about six other diners. If you prefer some privacy, I recommend you book as you may be able to get a private table.
Izakaya Masuya Sake Tasting Set
Sake Tasting Set
The one thing that interested me the most was the sake tasting set. You could choose from a large variety, depending on what was in stock, and the lady would bring all five bottles out and sit them on the table for you so you could see what you were tasting. It was a trust thing as once they poured your measures, they didn’t expect you to pour anymore for yourself. If you enjoyed any of the ones you had, you could then order a full glass or even a bottle.
The tasting set allows you to try some sake that would normally cost close to $100 for a bottle for a fraction of the price, so it is definitely worthwhile.
So, of course, the sake was amazing. While the list on the wall wasn’t actually what was available, the choices given had enough variety for each one to be worthy of savouring. We made the tasting set last the time we spent there, and shared sips in between meals.
But, onto the food! The highlight was actually a basic dish called Oden consisting of a combination of tofu, egg, Japanese radish, konjac, three kinds of fish cake and soup. A Japanese version of a casserole. We cut everything in half and felt full quickly, but as each was quite liquidy, we weren’t full for long. It comes with some tasty Japanese style mustard, a great addition to the flavour.
The sashimi plate was welcome and we devoured it quickly, delighting in the assorted tastes from tuna pieces taken from different parts of the tuna fish.
The oysters were succulent and juicy and we were fairly impressed with the freshness. On par with the seafood markets.
We did order another dish but were informed about a half hour later that they had sold out. Probably a good thing as by this time we had reached our limit, and still had one more dish to go.
We finished the meal with what is supposed to be their signature dish. This is not something I would recommend to the casual diner. This is for those who love to try adventurous food. These minced, marinated and dried livers were not what we were expecting and I felt a brief pang of embarrassment at the sight, recalling a more childish time of commenting on food that looked like it might not actually be food, but something else, entirely.
In any case, ignoring what it looked like, it actually tasted quite interesting. Dry and chalky flavours with sweetness at the tip of the tongue and a strong liver flavour in the swallow. It’s not something I’ve had before and probably not something I could have again, but if you’re interested in trying your livers a different way, ring ahead and find out if it is available.
I’d recommend a stiff glass of sake with it, though!