Bristol Bites Blog

Masa Japanese Restaurant: Review

Posted on: June 27, 2011

A few weeks back, having been told via Twitter that it was International Sushi Day that Saturday, we’d had cravings all weekend. Our favourite Japanese restaurant in Bristol (Noa in Clifton Village) is closed on Sundays, so we decided to pay a visit to Masa on Baldwin Street…

We’ve been here a few times before, mainly in big groups for people’s birthdays, and so normally opt for set menus rather than choosing from the extensive a la carte menu. This visit was no different. In order to get as much variety as possible (I’m not great at making decisions!) we chose the buffet menu option.

The ‘eat as much as you can’ buffet menu is available seven days a week, and priced at £18.95 per head on Fridays and Saturdays, and £16.95 per head on other days of the week. The buffet page of Masa’s menu highlights all sorts of restrictions, such as a maximum stay of three hours (no doubt to deal with those with hollow legs like my friend Nick…), the fact that you can order five plates of food at a time, a ban on taking leftover food away, surcharges for wasted food…the list goes on, as you’ll see from the photo below. You can understand them wanting to cover themselves from losing too much money – especially when you consider that all dishes on this menu are made to order – but it’s not particularly customer-centric. And even less so when you consider that they don’t give any indication of portion sizes, which vary hugely. Note that if you order the noodle soup, you’ll be presented with a full-size portion as a friend found out on our last birthday visit: after the staff told her that she needed to eat more of it or she’d have to pay extra, she resorted to hiding it in other friends’ empty, lidded bowls…

Restrictions aside, it’s a great way of trying out a variety of Japanese dishes at a very reasonable cost. And, if you’re dining with  a group, it’s an opportunity to share the dishes that are ordered so that you can have even more variety.

We started with a bowl of miso soup each, and then our orders varied: Laura stuck mainly to the sushi and sashimi section of the menu (sashimi is subject to supplementary charges), whereas Nick and I went for a bit of a mix. I began my meal with the mixed tempura: prawns and a selection of vegetables – including carrot, mushroom, peppers and baby corn – fried in a light tempura batter and served with a light soy sauce. The photo below highlights my point about the generosity of some of the portions…

My orders also included chicken teppanyaki (cooked on an iron griddle) – the portion size being much more sensible for a buffet menu order…

…and the Masa luxury rolls – a huge portion of maki containing salmon, mushrooms, avocado and brightly coloured roe, and lightly fried in tempura batter.

I didn’t take photos of everything that we ate – it would have got a little ridiculous!  Highlights for me were the luxury rolls and the kara katsu: a breadcrumbed and fried chicken fillet, sliced and served with a fruity barbecue-style dipping sauce. There were no low points of the meal, in my mind – although I was slightly wary of the crabstick teppanyaki that the others ordered…

If you decide that the buffet menu isn’t for you, there’s still a massive selection available, including both set meals and a la carte options. You’ll be able to dine perfectly well here for around £7-£9 for a main course (you can see the full menu here), and vegetarians are very well catered for. The food is enjoyable, and (in my opinion) superior to Obento on the other side of the road. The service could be better, though, and the toilets are pretty awful!

A reliable choice for an evening out in terms of food quality, but a few niggles that do spoil the experience slightly. It’s not fine dining by any means, but the food is consistently good and reasonably priced, plus the size of the restaurant and set menu options mean that it’s great for big groups.

I still maintain, though, that if you want a Japanese meal of the highest quality in Bristol, you should head over to Noa in Clifton Village…

Masa Japanese Restaurant


Address: 42-46 Baldwin Street, Bristol BS1 1PN

Telephone: 0117 929 3888 / 0117 930 0600

3 Responses to "Masa Japanese Restaurant: Review"

We went here for a staff night out to celebrate the end of a fantastic exhibition we had, it’s fantastic! great food and an excellent service to match.

Glad to hear it! I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal in there, and the staff are very friendly…unless you contravene their buffet menu rules 🙂

And I haven’t eaten a bowl of noodle soup since.

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