Review: Masa Japanese Bistro and Sushi Bar is a great addition to a growing trend

Anna Dryden

East Asian food is taking the East End of Louisville by storm. Beginning with the successful opening of Simply Thai on Shelbyville Road, Asian restaurants have started popping up everywhere. The most recent opening of Masa Japanese Bistro and Sushi Bar has proven that these restaurants are going for quality, not just quantity.

Masa is located at 12336 Shelbyville Road in an outdated strip mall next to the YMCA. The outside is not very impressive, but the interior is decorated with a cool, East-Asia-meets-modern-downtown-café style. In the early days of the restaurant, the place was never terribly crowded and reservations weren’t necessary, but as its popularity has grown the wait for a table has increased to about ten to fifteen minutes, and reservations are advised.

What makes Masa stand out from the crowd is its delicious food and wide variety of sushi. The menu is filled with perfectly portioned combinations of hibachi style entrees, with sushi, soups, salads and creative appetizers. This restaurant is particularly vegetarian friendly because of a convenient menu option: diners can substitute all meat entrées with tofu or seafood.

The most surprising must-order item on Masa’s menu is the Shrimp Typhoon Rolls, a delicious cooked sushi roll featuring steamed shrimp and potatoes all wrapped up in crunchy rice noodles. The description on the menu makes the dish sound a little peculiar, but one flaky, savory bite will change your mind. If sushi just really isn’t your thing, you can still find something delicious at Masa. The entrees mostly consist of hibachi vegetables, cooked to perfection in scrumptious brown sauce; meat, including beek, pork, chicken, shrimp, scallops, salmon and tofu; and either steamed or fried rice. All the entrees are sized perfectly so there’s no mountain of rice or noodles to stuff yourself on like so many Asian restaurants serve. The food at Masa leaves you feeling light and energized, not bogged down on giant, oily portions.

Because of its unique atmosphere and authentic cuisine, diners at Masa will find themselves thinking they’re in East Asia rather than the East End. This new addition to the Middletown restaurant scene is definitely worth both a visit and little bit of boldness.