One of the cool things about this blog is I have the opportunity to watch a space evolve as old restaurants move on and new restaurants arrive.
A perfect example of that sits in the center of a strip mall in the Broadcasting Square Shopping Center in Wyomissing.
The space was original home to Super King Buffet – a rather ordinary Chinese buffet. More recently, it was home to Hong Thanh, an inspired Vietnamese restaurant that left the city of Reading only to return to its original location last year (under the new name Lang Restaurant).
Now, the space is home to Masa Hibachi and Sushi. It’s the third Asian restaurant at the location, but that’s where the similarities end.
Masa opened at the end of 2017 after a renovation that completely transformed the space. Gone is the booth seating that ran the length of the dining room. Instead, the dining area has been broken up. There are tables for two and four by the window. Beyond that are two hibachi grills, a sushi bar, another bar and more tables.
The hibachi grills were fired up – two young children sat with parents and grandparents, mesmerized at the show of fire and cooking skills – but we skipped the performance to try some of Masa’s other menu items.
Julie’s meal came with a house salad, served with ginger dressing. At first glance, it looked like honey mustard, but looks can be deceiving. The ginger was ever-present in this citrusy dressing. It had a nice tang to it and was very easy on the palate. The dressing really made the difference for what was otherwise a standard bowl of lettuce garnished with a cucumber slice and a pair of cherry tomatoes.
My meal did not come with salad so I ordered a cup of coconut chicken soup. Unfortunately my soup didn’t arrive as an appetizer and instead showed up with our entrees.
I had coconut chicken soup once before, in February 2015 at China Penn in Exeter Township. The two dishes were similar but with some key differences. At China Penn, there was one large piece of chicken and the broth was filled with carrots and herbs.
Masa’s version featured bite size pieces of chicken – as a soup should. There were no carrots, but there were pieces of hard-boiled egg and cherry tomatoes, the latter adding a pleasant flavor burst in those bites. The broth itself was very good, if a little sweet. I only wish that I wasn’t eating it with my main course.
That main course was a yaki udon stir fry. Yaki literally means grilled or fried in Japanese. Udon noodles are thicker, white colored noodles. The sauce for yaki udon is soy-based, but this was not soy sauce. It was light sauce that was much less salty than I was expecting from an Asian stir-fry.
Noodle dishes at Masa are served with the choice of vegetable, chicken, beef, shrimp, seafood, or “house.” I went with the beef, which was cooked in the sauce with the noodles, greens and carrots. It was a nice dish, but the size of the udon noodles made it almost impossible to get anything else on the fork.
Some of it – a little less than half – went home with me for lunch the next day.
Julie, on the other hand, left none of her sesame chicken and rice when she was finished.
Sesame chicken is a staple of Americanized Chinese food menus. There is something about getting sesame chicken served on a plate instead of in a box that seems to add flavor. Or maybe this was just a better version of the dish. But it still felt familiar like the comfort food that it is.
The meal may have been slightly more expensive than a Chinese take-out restaurant, but the $30 price tag was certainly a modest cost for a sit-down meal for two that included a bowl of soup and two soft drinks.
I wouldn’t put it among the best meals that I have had on Berks County Eats, but overall, I was impressed – both by the changes made to the space and with the dining experience at Masa. It was a good meal in a cool atmosphere.
But in this case, good is good enough.
Ambiance: Very Good
Masa Hibachi & Sushi
2733 Papermill Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610