What's the price of glory? In the case of Masa, figure $400 per person, plus beverages
, an automatic 20 percent house charge and NYC sales tax. You do the math. But, if money is no object, you must go to Masa. On first glance, the sushi counter appears simple, though not much different than many others around town. The smooth, beautiful counter is made from Masa's favorite wood, hinoki; in fact, all wood, stone and bamboo design elements, selected by architect Richard Bloch, have been specially brought in from Japan---as is most of the seafood. A mighty reputation precedes Masayoshi Takayama as the former sushi master at Beverly Hills' Ginza Sushi-Ko, but a smiling, congenial Masa will stand before you, as he has sworn he will always be there. Of the many items we experienced, not one was less than stellar. Start with a little dish of shredded, pickled seafood. Next, toro (tuna belly) tartare with a spoonful of caviar and toast; the fish's pristine quality and high fat content will drive you to crave another bite. But Masa also has other ideas: sea bass with sprouts and aromatic leaves, vinegar and salt (which sushi chefs call namino hana, or flower of the waves), a dish that leaves a bitter-salty tingling sensation on the tongue, which lingers for minutes. A little bowl of foie gras and a sharp-toothed eel called hamo comes in a delicate soy broth, a signature Masa shabu-shabu-style dish that deserves its fame---the velvety foie gras barely melting in the broth, the fish adding briny nuance to the fatted morsel. Also available is an array of sushi of a quality we have rarely tasted in this country. Visit Masa and take away an ethereal experience that will refuse to fade from memory.