Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reviews with Views: Masao's Kitchen

Masao's Kitchen, 581 Moody St., Waltham, MA 02453. 

I stopped in at Masao's Kitchen before heading over to the Embassy to see Food, Inc. It's kinda funny: I was going to go to Watch City Brewery and see if their beef is grass-fed and all that, and then I remembered that I had never tried Masao's. Since I was there in Waltham to see a movie about the industrialization of our food supply, it seemed to be a better choice to go with the wholesomeness of the Japanese buffet.

Masao's is the Boston area's only vegan-macrobiotic restaurant. I've been wanting to try this place for a long time, since it has been receiving rave reviews from friends and others

At Masao's, diners select items from a buffet of fresh vegetables, rice, beans and tofu. There's also salad, soup, and desserts (like an oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie) available. You can drink water for free, or try a Knudsen's spritzer -- 100% juice with light carbonation. 

I ate the meal pictured here: (clockwise from left) butternut squash, broccoli, brown rice, carrot and green bean medley, kidney beans in a savory sauce, a complimentary tempeh sandwich, and sauteed tofu. The food tasted very fresh, was only lightly seasoned, allowing the real flavors of the food to come through. For those who want to add seasoning, there is a bar of seasonings with more choices than I would even know what to do with. The light seasoning is great for people who are watching their salt intake or for anyone who wants to re-experience what real food tastes like. 

I enjoyed my meal and felt very satisfied. I actually think I took a little too much food. I think my favorites were the squash and the tofu: the squash was bright and sweet, well-cooked but not mushy, and the savory sauce on the tofu was rich and satisfying. The only food I wasn't sure about was the sandwich -- it was good, but it had that "vegan" mayonnaise on it. I could have dealt with a drizzle of olive oil instead.

At $8 per lb. you can eat a very wholesome and satisfying meal for not too much. It's almost as convenient and fast as fast food (just can't eat this one in the car so easily) and much better for you. 

Side note: in the back of the restaurant is a book shelf with vegan, macro and holistic health info that folks can browse through or purchase. There's a real intention to the cuisine at Masao's that diners may find inspirational, "cute" or perhaps annoying. I'm somewhere in the middle of this list. Here's what was on the wall in the bathroom:


If you're not sure about vegan or macrobiotic food, the first thing I would say is that all the food I ate on the macro cleanse and here at Masao's was real food -- no processed food and lots of fresh veggies and fruit. Whole grains, beans, tofu, tempeh as well. So, you can go macro and still recognize everything on your plate.

Secondly, I would say that there are lots of spices and flavorings that are in alignment with macrobiotic eating (and not all macrobiotic eaters are vegan, btw) that you can experiment with: dulse, Bragg's amino acids (tastes like soy sauce), sesame seeds and much more. I have only just begun to experiment in this way.  My favorite is Sriracha, a Korean chili sauce that is unbelievably hot but also tasty. It goes well on lots of things: eggs, greens, corn, beans, meats. Use it in a stir-fry or anytime you would use tabasco sauce (I use it in tacos and burritos). 

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