The space previously called Basement will get a new name and menu on Tuesday, October 9: Masa’s Raw Bar will focus on a la carte sushi and seafood cocktail platters, essentially reverting back to the cuisine that made Masa famous. The 39-seat venue underneath Tetsu will offer shareable seafood platters priced at $45 per person, several nigiri options, and of course, a pricey tasting menu that goes for $350, the same price as the previous one.
Diners will be given the liberty to build their own platters and customize their kaiseki experience — “We wanted to make it casual, like a more upscale seafood shack,” Masa writes Eater via email. The menu will change daily, and walk-ins are welcome. It’s all part of an effort to make the space feel more inviting to diners looking for a quick bite as well as those hungry for a full meal, he says.
The change comes following some mixed reviews for Tetsu and Basement’s kaiseki. Masa opened Tetsu in 2017 as a casual Japanese grill, a more lower-cost alternative to his expensive restaurant further uptown. Basement launched later with its $350 kaiseki menu, which featured luxurious items like squab, A5 wagyu beef, Ohmi roast beef, and whole fish. Though the Times gave two stars to Tetsu, Eater critic Ryan Sutton slapped it with a less-than-positive review, and Basement’s kaiseki menu received a sour review from Grub Street, with Adam Platt calling the meat “overpriced and underwhelming.”
But the chef — known for his three-Michelin-starred restaurant Masa in Columbus Circle, considered by many to be America’s best and priciest omakase — tells Eater the switch comes in response to diners’ habits in the neighborhood. He originally chose to focus on steak to showcase a different cuisine than what he’s recognized for at Masa, but he thinks people will prefer lighter fare over a meat-heavy meal.
Masa’s Raw Bar opens October 9 and will be open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.