Noted Bay Area sushi chef Masa Sasaki is bringing his love of burgers and fried fatty tuna to downtown Oakland early next year, as he gets set to open Masabaga.
Sasaki — who served sushi at Maruya before opening his own spot, Sasaki, at Harrison and 20th — gained a love for American-style burgers while on road trips on his motorcycle in the U.S. And while they have a type of hamburger, called a "baga," in Japan, it's more akin to meatloaf than to American burger, and at Masabaga, the latter will reign. As Sasaki tells Eater this week, "The burger is a burger," not a Japanese "baga."
But the other item he'll be introducing will be new for the Bay Area. It's a toro burger, made with fatty tuna belly — only in this case it won't be traditional toro from over-fished and hard-to-procure bluefin tuna, it will be belly meat from yellowfin tuna, which typically isn't used in sushi. As Sasaki explains to Eater, while yellowfin "toro" tends to be chewy when raw, it turns tender and delicious when panko-breaded and fried. So at Masabaga, you'll find toro burgers that are just squares of yellowfin tuna belly fried like tonkatsu (pork cutlet), topped with lightly dressed lettuce with radishes, onions, and mint.
Look for Masabaga to debut in the former Hutch Bar & Kitchen space at 2022 Telegraph Avenue in February.
Photo: Christy V./Yelp