Despite its modest sign and dim stairway, Masu's interior beguiles with sexy urbanism. The menu offers a compromise between Western-style platings, the typical a la carte sushi experience, and a love affair with tempura. Sauces kick the food out of the simple raw-fish realm and into a heavier, more formal kind of dining. The bar has a knack for burying alcohol's bitter edge in fragrant herbs and exotic fruit, so a still drink feels like a healthy adventure. Entrees, which range from a straightforward vegetable-and-tofu yakisoba to an elaborate wild-salmon confit, and overly casual service don't achieve the elegance that the space (or the price tag) demands. Still, Masu's instincts are definitely good—all that's needed is a tightening up of the concept and a sanding down of some rough edges. (Originally reviewed 2/9/05.)