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Fusion cuisine became trendy back in the ’80s. People who weren’t even born when the first bok-choy-stuffed taco hit menus can now legally vote, drink, and pay taxes. So what makes Masa 14, a new Latin/Asian restaurant that opened its doors Monday, think it can make an impression?
Well, the neighborhood doesn’t hurt. The area around 14th and U streets, Northwest, which was being called “up-and-coming” only five years ago, is now one of the city’s liveliest. The Black Cat is there. So is Bar Pilar, Cork, Busboys and Poets, and Ben’s Chili Bowl. Not bad neighbors for a new restaurant courting a mix of young professionals and college students.
The drinks list helps, too. Masa 14 is styling itself as DC’s first tequila bar. We counted 119 varieties of tequila on the opening menu, and there are also 62 wines, 14 beers on tap, and a few signature cocktails. They’ll be served until 2 AM during the week and 3 on weekends.
The atmosphere is moody and minimalist but cozy. The bar runs an impressive 65 feet down one wall, and design touches such as exposed brick and scrubbed-steel ceiling beams add an industrial vibe. The center of the restaurant is taken up by a dramatic, slate-gray staircase, even though the upstairs isn’t open yet for seating (a rooftop might come later). The restaurant’s 28-seat private dining room will be encased in glass walls and situated up front.
The menu is filled with Asian small plates with Latin accents, such as barbecue eel with pickled jalepeños ($6), Kobe meatballs with cotija cheese and smoked-tomato sauce ($10), and wok-fried okra with chipotle aïoli ($5).
The mix of cultures is reflected in the restaurant’s ownership. Denver-based chef Richard Sandoval, who owns 13 other restaurants including Zengo in DC’s Penn Quarter and La Sandía in Tysons Corner Center, grew up in Mexico City. His partner, Kaz Sushi Bistro chef/owner Kaz Okochi, is from Japan. Antonio Burrell, who most recently led the kitchen at CommonWealth in Columbia Heights, is manning the stoves. Can they make a case for a fusion comeback? We’ll see. But maybe there’s a reason the cuisine has been around longer than I have.
Masa 14, 1825 14th St., NW; 202-328-1414; masa14.com. Open Monday through Thursday 5 to 2, Friday 5 to 3, Saturday 11 AM to 3 AM, Sunday 11 AM to 2 AM.
Temaki Hand Rolls
Spicy tuna / wasabi / tuna / jicama / scallion $6
Crunchy shrimp / wasabi sauce / lettuce / crunchy rice, $6
Barbecued eel / pickled jalapeño / mint / eel sauce $6
Vegetarian / sweet tofu / hijiki / pickled cucumber / basil $5
Salads, Soup, and Ceviche
Tuna ceviche / coconut / pineapple / pico de gallo $10
Masa chicken salad / pulled chicken/ cabbage/ carrots/ piloncillo vinaigrette/ crispy noodle $8
Baby-spinach salad / sautéed mushrooms / roasted red peppers / walnuts / black-bean dressing $6
Hijiki-seaweed-and-jicama salad / sesame / chayote / daikon sprouts $6
Smoked-tomato soup / crab / mushroom / tofu $5
Grilled baby octopus / chimichurri / pickled vegetables $9
Crispy crab wonton rolls / cream cheese / corn / mushroom / shiso / truffle / spice ponzu $12
Wok-steamed mussels / chipotle-miso broth / ginger / scallion / bacon $7
Masa-panko calamari / Madras curry / lime / red jalapeño / cilantro / mint / sweet-and-spicy chili sauce $6
Black cod / chipotle miso / pickled onion $13
Barbecue salmon / achiote ponzu/ spinach / bacon $10
Crunchy shrimp / chipotle aïoli / sesame / scallion / masago $11
Fried oysters / bibb lettuce cup / spicy pickle / tomato / chile toreado rémoulade $9
Meat and Poultry
Kobe-beef-and-pork meatballs / cotija cheese / scallion / smoked-tomato yuzu sauce $10
Pulled-beef tostada / cilantro / peanut / bean sprout / cotija cheese / guacamole $8
Crispy chicken wing / garlic / teriyaki / sambal $8
Kobe-beef brisket / Oaxaca-cheese potato / achiote-citrus sauce $14
Beef tenderloin / chimichurri / fingerling potatoes / mushroom escabeche $13
Green-curry chicken / grilled chicken thigh / potatoes / spinach / carrots $11 (can be made as vegetarian curry, $9)
Pork-belly al pastor tacos / steamed bun / pineapple preserve / red fresno chilies / lime / cilantro / pickled onion $6
Fried tofu / sautéed spinach / sweet and spicy chile sauce $6
Edamame / salted / steamed / spicy $4
Yucca fries / chimichurri / garlic / lime-aïoli dipping sauce $5
Crunchy wok-fried okra/ soy/ chipotle aïoli $5
Noodles and Rice
Pork tan tan noodles / wonton noodle / mushroom / peanut / scallion / corn $8
Shrimp-and-pork fried rice / kimchee / chile guajillo / carrots / corn / scallion / bean sprouts / cilantro $9 (can be made vegetarian, $6)
Serrano-ham flatbread / goat cheese / cantaloupe / arugula / truffle / lime $8
Tuna-sashimi flatbread / wasabi aïoli / arugula / capers / yuzu / sea salt / red onion $11
Corzo Margarita (Corzo tequila, agave nectar, fresh lime juice) $11
Patron Paloma (Patron tequila, fresh lime juice, grapefruit soda) $12
Red Star (Herradura tequila, Chambord, agave nectar, raspberry purée, fresh lime juice) $12
Sapphire Sun (Bombay Sapphire, peach brandy, passionfruit purée, agave nectar, orange bitters, house sour mix) $10
Mojito Masa (Patron Pyrat rum, Bacardi light rum, mint, lime, orange, agave nectar) $10
Caipirinha Pina (Leblon cachaça, lime, agave nectar, muddled pineapple) $9
Eastern Breeze (Sake, Grey Goose pear, mango purée, agave nectar, house sour mix, cranberry juice) $12
Woodford and Ginger (Woodford Reserve bourbon, house-made ginger ale) $10
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