Japan: Masa Takayama, Masa
MENU: Japanese sea bass with shiso-leaf dipping sauce, cucumber-and-wakame sunomono, grapefruit granité
You may think of Masa Takayama as Mr. Raw Fish—as in the $350 symphonies of sushi he conducts at his Time Warner Center aerie. It turns out he’s just as masterful behind a grill. His bamboo-wrapped sea bass with shiso-leaf dipping sauce sounds exotic, but the technique is common in some parts of Japan. So are the ingredients: “Shiso leaf grows a lot in the garden,” says Takayama. “We grab it and put it in a blender with vinegar and salt.” The sweet, mild, and flaky fish succumbs to the leaf’s subtle flavor, and comes alive with a dip in the bright, zingy sauce. Cucumbers and seaweed are just as ubiquitous, and ideal partners in a light, fresh salad. And grapefruit granité anointed with Grand Marnier and yuzu zest makes a terrifically tart palate-cleanser.
On the Grill
Japanese Sea Bass (Suzuki) with Shiso-Leaf Dipping sauce
On the Side
Masa recommends a high-end sake, such as a ginjo or daiginjo from Kakunko. The delicate sweetness balances the smokiness of the fish and the acidity of the shiso dipping sauce.
Where to Shop
(4 Stuyvesant St., nr. Third Ave., second fl.; 212-598-3040). Japanese delicacies from sashimi-grade fish to miso pastes and sauces, and Japanese sweets.