Opened in 2015 by Tojo’s alumnus Masayoshi Baba, Masayoshi’s 24-seat restaurant was one of the first to bring a high-end Omakase-only dining experience to Vancouver. After trying it a few years ago, it’s still memorable as one of the best Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, but one that left me hungry even after spending $100+ person (it’s $160 now).
Due to the lack of value I never returned. However with the closure of indoor dining and launch of a new takeout menu, it’s interesting to see how a two-seating-per-night fixed-price Omakase restaurant adapts to today’s environment.
The Take-Out Experience
Ordering options included calling for pick up or online via Uber Eats. They stuck a table right at the front door so that only one person would fit inside between the door and the table. It was awkward when my food wasn’t ready and someone else was trying to get inside to pick up, so I just ended up waiting outside.
The frustrating thing is that I got a “ready for pick up” notification on Uber Eats at 6:06PM, but when I got there it wasn’t ready and needed to wait outside until 6:23PM before I got my order. There’s no reason for this when they should be using the app to give an accurate ETA and mark it as ready when it actually is.
The food at Masayoshi was very attractively packaged and this definitely made the experience feel more curated. Everything being labelled with little stickers was a nice touch.
High quality instant miso soup is such a brilliant idea, considering takeout usually needs to be reheated anyways to serve it piping hot like it should be. The portions were beautifully arranged and it’s great that you get to try 4 different flavors.
Reconstitution involved pouring 180mL of boiled water onto the miso portion and stirring well, which took surprising effort to break down all the clumps. The soups were all delicious and each tasted unique, however they were missing the delicate aroma of miso that you get from a freshly made traditional miso soup.
The Inari Sushi set at Masayoshi contained five different varieties (2 pieces each). I also ordered a few extra individually to try the other flavors below.
The Inari Age (tofu pockets) are house-made and definitely different than the standard pre-made ones that most places serve. It’s thicker, firmer, less sweet, and you can really taste the flavor of the tofu and dashi.
However the rice was the highlight. It’s perfectly seasoned and you could taste the texture of every kernel in your mouth. The different fillings were interesting, but kind of tasted the same in the background which really allowed the tofu and rice to shine as it should.
Upon opening the box of Masayoshi’s hoso maki, I got an intoxicating whiff of high quality nori. Unfortunately it was no longer crispy, but that’s an unavoidable downside to takeout sushi. As a common indicator of a great sushi restaurant, each piece had the perfect amount of wasabi incorporated. The rice again was the star of the show with a chewy texture and packed to a density that’s just right. I haven’t had sushi of this quality since the pandemic started.
I love when restaurants give these little fillable soy sauce containers instead of the usual mass produced packets. The soy sauce was delicate and not very salty so I ended up using every last drop.
The almond tofu was pretty standard and I could barely taste any hint of the sansho pepper.
The sake and grape verrine on the otherhand was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had at a Japanese restaurant! The jelly at the top gave a contrasting texture to the bottom layer, and the flavor of sake hit me on the very first bite of this clean and refreshing dessert. This paired perfectly with the fruitiness of the grape slices. I’m not sure if it was the way the grapes were sliced, or if they were specially prepared, but they tasted exactly like grape candy or the Kyoho grapes in Japan. I’m tempted to go back to Masayoshi just to order a few of these desserts.
The Yuki Hotaru is a great entry level sake that can be served chilled or warm. It’s fruity, floral, smooth and refreshing. Goes well with pretty much any Japanese food and paired particularly well with the Inari Sushi.
Even with its modified takeout menu, it’s clear that Masayoshi has maintained the quality and attention to detail that has made it one of the top Japanese restaurants in Vancouver. It’s a great opportunity to get to try the food at a lower cost compared to their Omakase, but it still isn’t cheap and the kinks in their pick up process prevents Masayoshi from getting a perfect score.
4376 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC
Price Range: $$$$