Saturday, June 23, 2018
Business

At Masa Asian Bistro & Bar, it's all about quality

WEEKI WACHEE — In Chinese, masa translates as "quality." Extrapolating, Angel Huang of the new Masa Asian Bistro & Bar, adds, "all things good."

At the three-cuisine restaurant, the good runs deep, from freshly made delicacies and dinners to elegant surroundings and professional, steeped-in-Asia chefs.

"I see no like Asian restaurant here," said Huang, who owns Masa with her husband, Cash Huang, both 35.

Other takeout and sit-down restaurants churning out Far Eastern fare specialize in one country's style, explained Angel Huang. The extensive Masa menu serves up specialties of the Big Three: Japanese, Chinese and Thai.

The New York natives of Chinese lineage, now Weeki Wachee residents, bring their big-city flavors and flair from more than their culture — also from their Big Apple dining experiences, plus nearly a decade operating a Masa bistro in the Washington, D.C., area.

Each Asian cuisine has individual nuances, Angel explained: Japanese is raw and vegetable-laden; Chinese is rice-heavy; and Thai is spicy to the -est.

"No egg foo young here," she declared of the sham-Asian egg dish for the masses.

At the local Masa, Japanese sushi, both raw and cooked, and hibachi-grilled are customers' favorites, said Angel, who manages the front of the house with grace and an ever-present smile.

Twenty varieties of sushi and its cousin, sashimi, stack the menu, ranging from friendly yellow fin tuna to exotic eel and flying fish egg. They are accompanied by 20 chef specialty rolls, featuring combinations of seafood, gill fish, fresh vegetables, rice and sauces spicy to sweet.

Considering the predominantly older population here, Angel pointed out, sushi rolls are wrapped in tender soy paper. Traditional seaweed wraps are "a hard bite," she said.

Cash, the executive chef, is master of the sushi roll, performing his craft, snapping up ingredients from a glassed cold case in front of awed diners seated in luxury at the sushi bar. His hands blur as he deftly assembles many-textured and colorful delectables into creations of palate-pleasing art, literally painted with their sauces. He accomplishes it in single-digit minutes.

Whether culinary or artistic skills come first, Cash shrugs. They are intertwined from birth.

Chinese fare, Angel said, is characterized by fried rice — a dozen protein combination choices here — and spring rolls, with more than 20 seafood-joined selections, each bundled with compatible vegetables and wrapped in translucent, edible rice paper.

Thai dishes Angel describes as "like curry. Everybody knows curries. Spicy hot."

Across the cuisines, broadly included are cucumber, red and green capsicums, pineapple, coconut, avocado, scallions, ginger root and basil. Meats run to chicken and beef.

Cultural cooking techniques embrace tempura-battered deep-fried, hibachi-grilled, stir-fried, all mastered by the culinary-trained, nine-member kitchen staff.

Full-course dinners to tasting plates are served, the latter appealing to the younger, evening crowd, who are also drawn to the full bar. Takeout is available.

Unique in comparison to other local Asian establishments, Angel noted: Masa's vegetables are fresh, never processed or frozen; rice is cooked nearly every hour, never held over; and fresh seafood, never frozen, is delivered daily or every two days.

Such practices may not be evident to a diner's eye. But the emporium's elegance is.

Subdued lighting. Recessed deep purple, royal blue illuminants. Black leatherette seating. Ebony and brushed stainless appointments. Crystal bead curtains. Linen napery. Minimalist chinaware.

It adds up to the Huangs' delivery of "all things good," insisted Angel Huang, adding, "We want to make all customers happy."

Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]

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