Two great minds in the DC restaurant game have collaborated to create a remarkable fusion dining experience. The first is Richard Sandoval who some consider Chef one of the best Mexican cuisine chefs in this country. He was also a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Restaurateur” award last year. The second is Chef Kazuhiro Okochi of award winning KAZ Sushi Bistro fame who creates some of the most innovative and elegant sushi you will find in DC. The two have come together to produce Masa 14, a restaurant that fuses Latin and Asian flavors together for an interesting and thoroughly delicious dining experience.
When I entered the restaurant, my first thought was that this is a place that takes drinking seriously. They have a bar that runs the full length of the dining room and it was packed with people sipping cocktails and having a great happy hour.
After I sat down, I perused the drink menu and weighed my many options. There must have been 100 different tequilas and mezcals to choose from and they were arranged in categories from blanco all the way to super anejo. They also have a large selection of sake and they had descriptions to help you navigate the choices. If you feel like a beer or wine with your dinner, the usual suspects were all present on the drink menu.
I was intrigued by cocktail list which were mostly of Latin influence. There were different types of margaritas, mojitos and sangrias. They even offer “light cocktails” with less than half the usual sugar.
I settled on the Spicy Cucumber Margarita. The cucumber added a refreshing twist that balanced out the heat from the chili peppers. You are able to enjoy the flavor of the chili peppers without it overwhelming the drink. They also put a healthy dose of tequila in their margaritas, just how I like it. I will see many more of these margaritas in my future.
The food is served tapas style. They encourage sharing amongst your party to allow everyone to experience a lot of different flavors. One positive observation I immediately made is that the portions tend to be a little larger than most tapas restaurants and ordering between 5 and 7 tapas for a table of two is plenty of food.
I started off with a temaki sushi hand roll of barbequed eel. The rice was slightly sweet as it should be and the eel was glazed with a thick sweet kabayaki sauce. A few pickled jalapenos were incorporated into the roll and gave it some nice spiciness as well as a Latin accent and after taste.
I’m a sucker for a good ceviche so I gave the Shrimp & Bay Scallop Ceviche a try. The seafood was very fresh and the flavor was bright and citrusy on the tongue with a little bit of heat from the Serrano chili. What is interesting about this dish is they use yuzu as the main citrus. Yuzu is an Asian citrus fruit that has a very distinct and aromatic flavor and it is a little on the tart side which makes it ideal for ceviche. This is a must try dish.
Next on the list was the Shrimp & Bulgogi Fried Rice. It was a satisfying plate of fried rice mixed with shrimp, vegetables and thin slices of marinated beef. What really brought this dish to life was the gochujang which is a flavorful Korean sauce made with chili paste, rice, kimchee base and few other ingredients. It is kind of like a sriracha sauce, but much more complex. This was my first time tasting the gochujang sauce and now I am a huge fan.
The last entrée tapas we had was the black cod. This was my favorite dish of the night. The cod was lightly poached and very delicate and it had a rich and buttery flavor. It was served with a chipotle miso sauce that complimented the fish and was garnished with pickled onions on top to give the dish a little acid. The onions cut the richness of the sauce and gave the dish balance. In my opinion, it was the perfect collaboration of both Latin and Asian cuisine.
We finished off the meal the Banana Cake with a sweet dulce de leche ice cream resting on top, as well as sliced bananas garnishing the plate. The best part about the banana cake was the tequila banana foster sauce. I made a bite incorporating all the ingredients and it was a very sweet end to a delicious meal.
- Shawn Keeley