Happy Halloween!


Just wanted to say a quick “Happy Halloween!” to everyone today.

Yesterday I brought in Nanaimo Bars with Fondant Ghosties on top! Even though some of the ghosts turned out looking more like skulls or the Scrubbing Bubbles buddies, everyone seemed to like them! Please forgive the poor presentation, I had a 1.5 hour metro commute and didn’t want to risk anything being squished or dropped.

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Masa 14

Food Decor Service Cost
19 20 19 $32

October 15th, 2009
I was contacted via survey by Masa 14 after my recent visit with my friend Stephanie. Stephanie was in a great position to help me fill out this survey since she’s a fellow foodie and was able to provide her unique vegetarian point of view on the menu. The survey asked diners for their thoughts on Decor, Food, Menu, Service and “Thankful-ness” from the staff for our patronage. I’ve included our slightly edited responses below, divided into the sections they asked for our feedback on. They also asked for rankings out of a possible five points–we ranked all categories either 3/5 or 4/5.

Chopsticks Centerpiece

Ambiance, decor, comfort

Love the wood detail, the layout of the place was okay. the outside made it seem like it was going to be smaller, and I was suprised at the size once I got inside. It was a bit hard to tell it was a restaurant outside since I couldn’t see a sign for “Masa 14”.

Menu variety and Choice & Food Quality and Taste

There were some interesting ingredient combinations, so this is a good place to get exposed to ingredients you haven’t tried before. The menu is not very vegetarian friendly–there were a lot of dishes that I think could be “made” vegetarian that would taste delicious. I would also like to see sushi rolls as well as temaki. A lot of dishes seemed like a good dish to try, but not good enough to order given that the prices would make the bill add up very quickly. I had the “Eastern Breeze” drink and it was very good.

Overall, the menu was interesting, but I was a bit confused. The dishes seem to be Asian with Mexican ingredients, making dishes “mash-ups”. Is masa 14 supposed to be Japanese-Mexican, or Asian-Latin (like Zengo)? If it’s the former, we would like to see more traditional dishes that use a mixture the flavor profiles as a way of modernizing, instead of these “mash-up” type dishes. Also, I think the majority of the menu was Asian with Latin ingredients, and I’d like to have seen some more traditional Latin dishes with Asian ingredients.

We ordered the seaweed/jicama salad, pork buns, ham/melon flatbread (1/2 with ham, 1/2 without), yucca fries, green tea tres leches and the mango panna cotta.

The salad was yummy. The texture could be improved a little bit, but the flavor was good. I think there needs to be a little more of a crunch element, which I thought would be provided by the jicama. Seemed simple, but had complex flavors.

The pork buns were alright. I liked the strong acidic flavors provided by the lime and pepper, but the pork got a bit lost in the mix in terms of flavoring. The “bun” was a bit too small and so it was awkward to eat. I think if the “bun” were larger, or an actual bun, it would do a good job of soaking up of those delicious juices that ran down the side of my arm instead~

The pizza had some very interesting flavors. I didn’t think I would like the melon with the ham, but it worked surprisingly well. I would have liked the ham to be a little crispier so that it was easier to bite into, but it was alright. The greens had a very strong dressing on them and the bread could also have been used to be a little bit crispier. I really liked the idea though, and the kitchen’s willingness to custom-make the pizza and it came out very quickly.

Mango panna cotta was great. Light but rich at the same time, and the coconut milk flavor was really pronounced. Green Tea Tres Leches was good, but it was a little bit off. I think the passion fruit “sauce” wasn’t integrated well into the dish and didn’t go with its overall flavors. Maybe something less acidic and more savory, like red bean or coffee on top?


Our waitress was very helpful in explaining the menu when we asked questions. There weren’t any untimely delays in service and she was quick to repair an order that was served to the table incorrectly.

I was contacted to fill out a survey about my recent experience. I like when restaurants ask for opinions of their customers. I also liked that Masa 14 confirmed our reservation by calling us.

I really enjoyed talking to Chef Kaz, it seemed like a real treat that he would take the time to come to our table and ask our opinion.

Overall, We would both go back again after viewing the full menu (our waitress told us it was 50-70% of the menu). Masa 14 has some really great ideas, it’s in a convenient location, and I love Zengo!

Ham & Canteloupe Flatbread Yucca Fries Pork Buns
Seaweed/Jicama Salad Interior Green Tea Tres Leches
Mango/Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Eastern Breeze Cocktail Menu

お月見弁当 Moon-Viewing Festival


I went to the Japan-America Society’s annual O-tsukimi festival this year. Since I am a member, the cost was only $20 for entry into the National Arboretum after hours, sake tastings, calligraphy, koto music, obon dancing, raffles, and daifuku. There was an option to purchase bento through JASW (which I found out was done by Tako Grill), but the prices were steep! ($20 per person for members)

Since we were probably going to go out after o-tsukimi, I packed a light bento of four inari-zushi. Each inari is seasoned differently. From left to right: yuzu kosho and homemade carrot-sesame furikake; salted ume paste with homemade radish-bonito furikake; sriracha; roasted red pepper hummus. I also tucked two little Anpanman chocolates into the bento.


It was nice and brisk outside, warmer than I initially thought it was going to be. I had thought the festival (Oct 3rd) was going to be much cooler, so I didn’t wear my yukata. I enjoyed touring the bonzai gardens, but didn’t see anything that would cause me to drive all the way out to Anacostia again. The pillars featured below were removed from the Capital building’s East side when the recent expansion was done.

otsukiminb_1 otsukiminb_2
otsukiminb_a otsukiminb_b otsukiminb_c
otsukiminb_3 otsukiminb_4 otsukiminb_5

Carte Postale du Japon


Diana from Bento Concept and her friend KaraChiwie are still traveling around the world with bento. Last month was Indonesia and this month is Japan! Since Japan is the birthplace of bento, Bento Concept chose to make the Japan stop have maki as a requirement. I haven’t made sushi in several years, but this sushi was okay. Everyone is welcome to join the bento-around-the-world adventure!

Top tier: salmon maki and grapes

Bottom tier(s): ingredients for enoki/scallion/shirataki/egg miso

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Tangy Seared Chicken Wings (鳥手羽さきのすいため)


For this month’s Washoku Warriors, the theme was vinegar. We had to make Tangy Seared Chicken Wings with the choice to make one or more of the following: Tart Miso-Mustard Sauce, Classic Sweet-and-Sour Sauce, Kelp & Mushroom Relish, and Red & White Radishes. It seems like a lot, but I was actually able to make all of the recipes and also made a vinegar-based Salted Plum Dressing and Enoki Miso Soup.

The image above is the Chicken, Miso-Mustard Sauce, and a salad with plum dressing. There seemed to be a lot of prep work involved in the chicken but I didn’t like the flavor profile. I chose to use chicken thighs instead of wings, but our local supermarket only had boneless, skinless thighs. Even though I know all of the ingredients that went into this dish were Asian, the end result tasted like Chicken Marsala. The sauce was was too strong for me, and was mostly miso instead tart or mustard-y. Unfortunately, we both agreed that the best part of this dish was the non-Washoku related salad.


I used the sweet and sour sauce to make the red & white radishes (this is a very versatile recipe!). I chose to use the pink, ume-su based sauce instead of the rice-vinegar and kombu based one. I haven’t had an opportunity to try the radishes that much, but I have mixed feelings. I like my radishes smaller and the sauce seemed a bit strong and dirty (maybe from the radishes). I prefer Just Bento’s version since it tastes better and is seems easier to make.

I haven’t tried the Kelp-Mushroom Relish yet, but I did make it! I tried to make onigiri with it as a filling, but the relish was too wet. I made inari with the relish as a topping and will take a picture and my thoughts later. The relish is a good way to use up leftovers, but I did not like cutting the many squares of kombu. I chose to cut them into half-inch strips, which was tedious when cutting almost twenty squares of seaweed (I halved the recipe). My cutting board got a bit slimy after a while too.


I had full plans to make the soup the way the book laid it out, but my tofu had gone bad! I was just going to use enoki and scallion, but I dropped an egg in for some added protein. I realized I don’t like enoki or scallion and the miso didn’t dissolve into the soup so I had one nasty bite that was just miso.