Bar Masa (10 Columbus Circle, 4th floor; 212-823-9800) is not known for being a bargain destination. It’s known as Time Warner Center’s sole clandestine passage, walled in enough beaming igneous to make you forget its location is in a shopping mall. But among the menu’s sumptuous miso-cod bento boxes and toro rolls for the ruling class, there are guilty pleasures to be had out of proportion to their prices; there are Spicy Dancing Shrimp.
For less than the price of a champagne cocktail, Masa’s next-door kitchen fires a towering basket of hulking tiger prawns and delicate lotus root in cottonseed oil, reimagining the bread and butter of a Joe’s Crab Shack with a dusting of ichimi pepper and dip of spicy mayo. It doesn’t melt on your tongue like a sliver of unagi, but sears your palate with a burst of heat. It’s deep-fried bar food, honest American mall food, hiding there in plain sight, and while your girlfriend’s scoring V.I.P. points at Sephora, you can too.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10.