I stopped into Masa 14 Monday evening, and the restaurant was packed - there was only one free seat at the bar, and I nabbed it.
There are 10 mixed drinks on their menu, and all of them range from $9-12 except for the Strawberry Lemonade
($7), a refreshing, not-too-sweet mix of vodka, fresh strawberry puree, and fresh lemonade. It was exactly what I needed at the time, and it hit the spot so much that I ordered a second one.
Out of 37 savory items on Masa 14's dinner menu, only 11 of them cost more than $9 (which might partially explain the enormous early popularity of this restaurant). They have a wood-burning oven (*), and I tried the Tuna Sashimi Flatbread
, a football-sized crisp carpeted wall-to-wall with thinly sliced cold tuna (it's dressed immediately after the flatbread is pulled from the oven), and topped with wasabi aioli, arugula, capers, yuzu, sea salt, and red onion. It sounds like an odd combination, "tuna sashimi flatbread," but would have worked beautifully had there not been overabundance of capers, which gave off too much vinegary acidity to let the other ingredients share the stage. Regardless, this was hopefully just an overeager assemblage
- I would get this dish again, and also recommend it to others.
Although the Pork Belly Al Pastor Tacos
($7) were pleasant, the total food cost of this dish had to be less than a dollar. The "tacos" are steamed buns, slimy on the bottom as wahoooob noted
, topped with a miserly portion of pork belly, then pineapple, thinly sliced red fresno pepper, lime, cilantro, and pickled onion. The paucity of the pork belly makes this a predominantly sweet dish, and while there's nothing wrong with that, it would have been in better balance with twice as much meat, even if that raised the price by a dollar. The beers here are expensive, starting at $7, and I paired this with a Peak Organic Pale Ale - I was originally going to order the "Kobe" Beef Brisket
($14, and the most expensive item on the menu), which would have been a better match with the beer since it was served with oaxaca cheese potato (and achiote citrus sauce).
Because I ordered small for my second course, I had room for dessert, and I'm glad I did. The dessert menu is the size of a large index card, and contains only four desserts, priced at a remarkable $4 each! Make sure you order the Green Tea Tres Leches Cake
with Passion Fruit Sauce - it's cool, refreshing, and a really wonderful way to top off your meal.
Sometimes, the smallest things can make or break an entire evening. At one point during my meal, a food runner tapped me on my shoulder, and alerted me to my keys which had fallen onto the floor. This seems like such a small thing, but if I had lost those keys, I was in big trouble; I sat there the rest of the meal just beaming, grateful to this gentleman for his attentiveness in seeing them on the floor - I can only hope there is return-karma in this world, and that something good has already happened to this person. I walked out of Masa 14 with a smile on my face, knowing full well that the rest of my evening was saved because of one good samaritan.
(*) Regarding my comment at the bottom of this post
about Bibiana's pizza oven, I received a seemingly well-informed message saying that "Fire codes in DC do not allow for wood burning ovens when there are tenants above. There may be a room, but not tenants, or at least that is my understanding of the code which allows 2 Amy’s and Red Rocks to have such ovens with a dining room above."