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Dining

Bite now: Ume shiso roll at Bar Masa

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That tiny dab of red sauce is the only hint that big flavor hides inside ume shiso.
Photo: Erin Ryan

When the fish is on your plate within 24 hours of leaving the coastal waters of Japan, it obviously gets top billing. But at Aria’s elegant Bar Masa, the menu is full of humbler dishes that are just as memorable.

Like vegetarian rolls, from creamy miso tofu to grilled maitake with summer truffle. But for a truly surprising taste, it’s all about the ume shiso ($14). Surprise No. 1: It’s not a roll. It’s four beautifully constructed dolma-like nuggets. The core is salted plum inside a perfect bite of sushi rice. That is swaddled in a leaf of fresh shiso, an herb from the mint family with a drier effect and tinges of citrus and bitterness. Wrapped in nutty lotus root sliced so thin it's see-through and dabbed with red sauce that hits spicy and tangy, this dish should overwhelm with flavor. But the elements are balanced just right, tugging the palate in different directions but still coming off whole. It’s weird, and really wonderful.

Bar Masa Aria, 877-230-2742. Daily, 5-11 p.m.

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Erin Ryan

Erin got her first newspaper job in 2002 thanks to a campfire story about Bigfoot. In her award-winning work for ...

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