Tasty Tuesday: Hunt for perfect ramen continues with Izakaya Masa

by Alek Sanchez, Staff Writer

Tucked away in an unassuming Mission Hills plaza, Izakaya Masa waits to open its doors. Open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Izakaya Masa is a special treat for those who can find it.

Adorned with historic Japanese banners and artwork, Izakaya Masa creates a homey atmosphere for guests. Seating is limited to only the inside and lines can form quickly. With no fancy frills or revamped foods, this restaurant treats patrons to an authentic and conventional experience done right.

Providing patrons with a quaint, traditional restaurant, Izakaya Masa offers a wide array of classic Japanese dishes. A great choice is the Hakata Ramen, which features a delectable pork broth.

Izakaya Masa offers small, regular and large portions for their ramen, topped with two juicy slices of barbecued pork, green onions and garlic chips. A regular bowl of ramen costs $8, with a large upgrade being an extra $1.50, and a small portion costing $2 less — a reasonable price for the amount of food given.

Variety is the spice of life, and ramen is no exception. Along with the Hakata Ramen, there are also shoyu (soy sauce) and shio (salt) broths available.

Izakaya Masa also features classic Japanese dishes, such as sushi rolls and rice bowls.

San Diego State marketing senior Tyra Ippongi tasted the salmon hand roll and salmon avocado roll.

“The sushi was my favorite,” Ippongi said. “The salmon tasted fresh and they gave good portions. (Izakya Masa is) different from the (other ramen shops) on Convoy, more of the traditional Japanese style.”

Delectable bite-sized pieces of green tea mochi ice cream cap off a delicious meal at Izakaya Masa. Mochi is a Japanese dessert made from pounded sticky rice with ice-cream filling. The chewy and doughy consistency of the mochi coupled with the sweet and refreshing green tea ice cream make a strong ending for the night.

The nighttime atmosphere creates a different vibe than other late-night ramen spots. By starting its hours late in the day, the restaurant has an after-work aesthetic commonly found in typical Izakayas in Japan. For those of legal drinking age, ramen and soju make for a great late-night combination.

Izakaya Masa is a new competitor for the best ramen in San Diego, joining the ranks of Underbelly and Rakiraki.

The hunt for the perfect ramen continues.