Monday, July 7, 2008

Matsu Sushi

Restaurant: Matsu Sushi
Address: 1009 Farnam Street
Website: N/A
Genres: Japanese, Sushi
Check Constraints: No Checks
Chain: No

==NinjaDebugger==
Ordered
  • Crunchy Spicy Salmon Roll lunch (8.95).
    • Crunchy Spicy Salmon Rolls
    • Nigiri Sushi assortment (Tuna, Salmon, Whitefish, Crab, Shrimp)
    • Miso Soup
    • Salad
  • Chicken Teriyaki Bento (8.95)
    • Chicken Teriyaki
    • Rice
    • California Roll
    • Salad
  • Inari Rolls (2 for 3.50)
I got quite a lot of food, there, but I wanted to try a lot of things, so instead of actually eating all of it, I got a lot of food and shared, like the good little mental kindergartener I am. I found this place when randomly searching for sushi restaurants near my home, and since Thursday the third of July was a damn good day to take a long lunch, since nobody at work was going to give a crap, and we wanted sushi, I pushed this place.

The drive there is pretty easy, but it's old market, so parking is a little scarce unless you use the honor system carpark out back. Luckily, there's an alley beside the restaurant that clearly used to be a food area, complete with a serving window, so you don't have to walk around the long way. The place itself is long and narrow. Half a city block long, give or take, but only about fifteen feet wide, give or take. There's a relatively small seating area in the front by the windows, followed by a long bar, and more seating in the back. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they took this place over from a pub, but hey, they call 'em sushi bars for a reason.

I'm gonna start with the bento, because it makes a hell of a contrast with Sakurabana, our old standby. The bento is a couple bucks cheaper, but then, you don't get a nice helping of tempura, nor do you get three nice pieces of nigiri sushi, instead getting a full California roll, which is made the original way, here, rice on the outside. I'm not sure which I prefer. Sakurabana's traditional ones are very tightly packed and flavorful, but the ones here have a much more pleasing texture and crunch. Six pieces is probably too much for me, though, as I'm not a huge fan of avocado.

The chicken tempura tasted somewhat beefy to me, and I'm not sure why. Other people thought it was fine, but it tasted kinda off, almost overwhelmingly strong. It went much better with the rice, though, as the rice here is incredibly sticky. I approve of extremely sticky rice, it's WAY easier to eat with chopsticks. The salad, though, absolutely blows away Sakurabana's, and frankly, almost any other salad dressing I've ever had. it's a pretty average salad, but we concluded that the dressing was a sort of carrot ginger, light on the carrot and heavy on the ginger. And the pepper. It is a very nice, spicy salad dressing, and if I could get a bottle of the stuff for home, I'd have it right now. The finishing touch on the whole thing is, obviously, the seemingly ubiquitous half an orange, this time with a cherry on top. I have no idea what it is with bento and that half-orange, but I'm not going to object. I would, however, prefer if they used seedless oranges next time.

The miso soup was pretty much miso soup, though it seemed a tad on the weak side. We weren't offered a choice of soups, either, though that's hardly a loss for me, given that Sakurabana only has two types, one of which I can't eat.

And then there was the sushi. Oh man, the sushi. Okay, first up, inari rolls. Inari rolls aren't sushi. They're cooked rice, wrapped in a tofu skin and deep fried. They are, done properly, absolutely delicious. They are, however, best served hot. These were served at room temperature, after a long wait for our food. When served cold, all the grease collects at the bottom and the whole construct becomes kinda generically awful. I don't know if they'll do it, but if you want some, ask if they'll bring it out with the appetizers.

Then there was real sushi. The crunchy spicy salmon sushi is prepared inside out, american style (to disguise the taste of seaweed), and appears to have been deep fried slightly, that being the crunchy part. the inside is salmon and spicy. It wasn't very spicy, but it was spicy enough for me, in the mid upper range, and it's a very damage over time heat. There's no up-front heat at all, and then, after you've chowed down, the heat starts to grow. And grow. And grow. Okay, for all that, it's still good, though not really to my taste. I recommend a bit of soy and wasabi to add some initial heat and cut down a tad on the lingering. It doesn't get nearly as bad, then.

The tuna sushi tasted a little off, kind of a tad bitter, but that might have been how long it was waiting to be eaten. The salmon and whitefish were both excellent, though. Unfortunately, it's here that my review stops, because my next try was the crab, and that's when my lizard hindbrain caught up to what was happening and said "excuse me wtf r u doin?" After nearly losing my lunch twice, I proclaimed myself defeated by my lizard hindbrain and left of trying to consume more sushi. Unfortunately, as lunch was already running very long, we called it there instead of grabbing dessert, as we were all somewhat intrigued by their zen sundae, which is green tea liquer over green tea ice cream. Is it zen? Yes, but not in the way that you think.

Overall, the place seems a bit overcosted, and I'm really not sure that it's worth it over another place. The location is pretty bad for us, too, so it's probably a good bet we won't be going back any time soon. If you happen to be near the old market, though, it's not bad for a close option.

==Mecha==
Ordered
  • 5 Nigiri + Spicy Tuna Roll lunch (8.95).
    • Spicy Tuna Roll (8 of the small 'Maki' type)
    • Nigiri Sushi assortment (Tuna, Salmon, Whitefish, Crab, Shrimp)
    • Miso Soup
    • Salad
  • Red Snapper Nigiri (2 for ~4.50?)
  • Squid Nigiri (2 for ~4.50?)
There is definitely a bit of oddness in the 'can only buy 2 nigiri at once' a la carte, and the costs do seem to be a bit higher on the a la carte, but the other lunch stuff is certainly comparable. A full roll itself costs in the 7-8 buck range as is whether Sakura Bana or here, so making a lunch out of it? Yes please.

The soup didn't seem as strong on the miso component, but was still pretty good to my taste. Couldn't figure out what was added in its place. The salad was definitely strong with a different type of carrot ginger dressing. Carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes I remember in the salad along with the lettuce.

The Spicy Tuna roll lives up to its name. Very good, but even hotter than the salmon roll. I loved the taste of it, though. The 5 pieces of separate Nigiri were all fairly solid, and I've got a more solid stomach for the crab, although it's worth noting that there's a bit less rice here than at Sakura Bana. This may be a function of the stickiness. Also, there is definitely wasabi already in these, so there's no need to add your own unless you're Cham. I'm not a huge fan of the shrimp nigiri, in general, but their tuna, salmon, and whitefish were at least as good as other decent sushi places.

The squid sushi is actually a lightly scored bit of squid head flesh, which is an interesting texture and flavor, to be sure. The red snapper, I was less of a fan of, but it wasn't awful... I just think that red snapper's not my thing.

The service was a bit slow, even with the place not being hopping, but I think it's a plenty serviceable sushi place. It's worth noting that their lunch menu is completely separate from their dinner menu, so things may or may not change when dinner comes around. Also, there was a lot of non-sushi options which people around us seemed to be enjoying, of the traditional noodle variety, so it might be solid as a noodle bar as well. If it were closer, I'd consider a few more permutations, but with Sakura Bana already so close, it's not enough to draw me downtown as an alternative. But it's still another surprisingly solid sushi place in the middle of the great plains to me.

==Moogle==
Ordered
  • Red Snapper Bento (8.95)
    • Grilled Red Snapper
    • Rice
    • California Roll
    • Salad
I found the miso soup here more to my liking than at Sakura Bana. I suppose it is a bit more mild. The tofu didn't get in the way, and the flavor was good. The salad came with the bento box for me, but it was the same salad. I agree that the dressing was spicy and flavorful. I enjoyed it. The red snapper was simply grilled. It seemed like there was no seasoning on it, but it didn't really need much extra. It did come with lemon to squeeze on top, which I used. The California rolls were good. I did notice that they were "inside out" from the way Sakura Bana does them. To me, that didn't make any difference. They may have had a little more rice.

I also tried a couple crunchy salmon and spicy tuna rolls. Being my first non-California roll, I thought they were edible, and I wouldn't mind having them again. I didn't really detect much heat from the salmon, so if you can handle the spicier end of typical Chinese food, they should be no bother. They were rolled in something crunchy on the outside which gave it a good texture. The tuna had a bit more heat, but they weren't bad either.

Like the others have said, Matsu was a bit far out for us, but I thought the food was good. The prices on bento boxes are at least similar to Sakura Bana as well. I would stop in again if I were in the neighborhood and looking for sushi/Japanese.

==MapleSyrup==
Ordered
  • 5 Nigiri + Spicy Tuna Roll lunch (8.95).
    • Spicy Tuna Roll (8 of the small 'Maki' type)
    • Nigiri Sushi assortment (Tuna, Salmon, Whitefish, Crab, Shrimp)
    • Miso Soup
    • Salad
I ended up ordering the same platter as Mecha, so have little to add to the reviews. As everyone has said, the salad had a delicious carrot ginger dressing on it, which is fortunate since you didn't have a choice in the matter. The Spicy Tuna Rolls had just the right level of spice and with a daub of wasabi and a touch of soy sauce tasted great. I enjoyed the assortment of Nigiri Sushi immensely, but be warned that there's some wasabi hiding between the fish and rice, so be careful adding your own. You'll end up with burning sinuses and watering eyes. Overall, I liked the food and the price.

2 comments:

TheCriticalWife said...

Ooooooh...you guys have GOT to try our fav sushi place - Hiro! 132nd & Maple. Probably too far for you to go for lunch, but hit it in the evening or on the weekend. They get pretty busy, but everything is sensational. We always used to go to their Friday or Saturday night happy hour (half price rolls), but now we've decided we're too old since it gets CRAZY busy! Totally love it. And, ask for Rusty or Sammy if you want sensational service!

Alternatively, Blue and Baby Blue, we consider "pretty sushi" - that is - the asthetics of the restaurant (and the servers) are more important than the food, but the food is good (if somewhat fly covered on occasion). Sushi Japan has one roll I love (beyond rangoon - tastes like crab rangoon), but otherwise I can take it or leave it. I don't consider Kona to be real sushi - all their rolls are too loose.

Chamelaeon said...

Mechalink and I actually just went to Hiro for my birthday last Friday... we're going to have to go again, to make it an official blog entry, but I am really looking forward to that revisit. It was v. crowded, but Hiro quite definitely has the best sushi to date (and some very nice sake, to boot).

We will probably get to Blue at some point, but we have to space out the sushi reviews so we have them to hit when some of us get cravings. ;)

Thanks for the tips!