Masa 14

I do have to hand it to them, the bar really is very long.  Masa 14 is, at its core, an Asian-Latin fusion tapas place – with a bar long enough to hold a fairly substantial pickup basketball game.  Normally, making a visit to a place for happy hour is not sufficient evidence or basis to write a few review like thoughts, but when I saw the basic menu, I must admit that I was roped in.   The location near Saint-Ex on 14th and T is obviously very convenient, and the space is surprisingly large for a DC area restaurant (indeed, the lengthy bar right?) – and while the Happy Hour special is much too short (5 to 7), the $4 cocktails and select plates is not a bad deal at all.

I ordered a pink lemonade, a lemonade, strawberry, vodka cocktail which emasculates me as I type its description – but turned out actually to be pretty good.  It is not cloyingly sweet, though the berry does help take some of the edge off of the citrus.  But the food really is worth note.  The first item I had was a Spicy Tuna Hand Roll, which fitting with the fusion theme also had jicama as one of its components.  The hand roll of course, is a sushi roll but served and eaten like an ice cream cone.  The flavor and kick was very tasty – the wasabe served its role but did not overwhelm.  My next tastes were of the fried calamari.  The breading was panko and some spices and it was served with a sweet chili sauce and a slaw with some madras curry on the top.  The entire ensemble fit well together and made for a very pleasant dish.  The other item I ordered was the crunchy fried shrimp which again involved a seasoned panko breading and served with a chipotle aioli – and indeed the words chipotle aioli were sufficient to entice me.  The shrimp were correctly cooked and the combination of flavors made a pleasant forkfull.  What my seatmates most recommended were the crabmeat wontons which were more like corn, cream cheese and real crabmeat (you could taste it).  Is this haute cuisine?  If you have an enmity for Crab Rangoon (indeed the deep irony given the presence of lactose issues in that part of the world) – I cannot say this will be your cup of team … but for what it is, it works as well.  Definitely worth trying again at length.

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