Matoi SushiPosted: 04/23/2012
Although Vancouver boasts a plethora of sushi restaurants, very few are authentically Japanese. While it doesn’t really matter to me who makes the food as long as it tastes good, I do find that I’m drawn to authentically Japanese-owned and operated restaurants, maybe just because they’re in the minority. Whatever the reason, the family and I drove down to Matoi Sushi near Coquitlam Centre on a Saturday night.
Our usual go-to place for sushi is Sushi Garden (the Lougheed location), but we rarely eat in. My parents are annoyed by the closeness of the tables, the endless waiting for seats, and the general noise and chaotic atmosphere of eating in, so we just get takeout. Another con of Sushi Garden is that the food is not made with care. While their popularity ensures constant turnover and therefore freshness of ingredients, the frenzy of orders requires the sushi chefs to work quickly, and so while the food is prepared fast, not much attention goes into presentation. This matters less for takeout orders, but still.
Well, Matoi Sushi satisfied my parents’ need for peace and quiet. The restaurant consists of several tables, a small sushi bar, as well as a few private rooms. The tables had enough space between them to ensure a degree of privacy to our conversations. Upon arriving we were greeted enthusiastically by the waitstaff, who seated us promptly.
To start, we ordered the Red Tuna Sashimi off the sheet of specials. At $8.95, this was a small portion, but unsurprising, since red tuna is quite pricey to begin with. Luckily, they gave us four pieces so we could each have one! We were all impressed by the quality of the sashimi. The fish tasted fresh, and while soft, was not mushy, and retained some natural sweetness. My mom also noted that they serve white ginger, as opposed to the glaringly pink ginger they serve at other sushi restaurants (often a product of food colouring). Still, we would have appreciated a larger portion for the price we paid.
I ordered the Oyako Don. I like to order this wherever I see it on the menu, because a lot of sushi places don’t make it. This version was quite tasty. The egg was smooth, the chicken pieces moist and juicy, and the rice wasn’t overly sauced or overly dry. There was a reasonable portion of fried onion present, which provided a necessary textural contrast. For the price we paid, this was also a respectable portion size. Out of all the dishes we tried, I think this was the best value, although I suppose their high prices are due to the high quality of their sashimi. The sauce was quite sweet–my mom commented that the sweetness probably was from the addition of mirin to the sauce. Ah well, I still enjoyed it!
My mom had the Tempura Udon. She found the soup a little salty, but the portion size was respectable again, since it was a cooked item. The tempura had been freshly fried and included carrot, green pepper, zucchini, and prawn (although no yam, which is my favourite). The noodles were enjoyably chewy.
My dad ordered the Sushi Combo C, which consisted of nigiri: two ebi, two salmon, and four tuna. The rice was sweet and vinegary, and the fish tasted refreshingly pure. They were tasty, but not nearly enough to make my dad full, which is why we ordered more. It was on the pricey side, but like I said before, we paid for the high quality of the fish used.
My brother chose the Sashimi Dinner Box, which at $15.50 consisted of assorted tempura, agedashi tofu, chicken teriyaki with rice, a green salad, miso soup, sunomono, and two pieces each of tuna, salmon, and tako sashimi, as well as two pieces of tamago. The tamago was very sweet due to the addition of mirin, again. He enjoyed the chicken, which was in large and juicy, moist pieces, and not covered in an obscene amount of sauce like a lot of teriyaki tends to be. The tofu was average, and the sunomono typical, but not as sweet as it is at many places. The tempura was hot and crispy and consisted of the same veggies and prawn as from the tempura udon above. To complete the meal, the green salad and miso soup were average, and the sashimi was again sweet and fresh. This was rather a pricey dinner box, but we did get quite a bit of food, and it was obvious they prepare everything with care.
Because my dad was still not full, we added a Maki Combo A, which consisted of six pieces of salmon maki, six of tuna maki, and a California Roll. The rice was smooth and sweet and vinegary, but not overly so. My parents both thought the seaweed was of a high quality, which they enjoyed. Obviously the rolls had been made and plated with care. As for the California Roll, the avocado was not too ripe and not too hard, and complimented by the imitation crab, which was sweet and fishy as it should be. I know a lot of people pick on the California Roll as a boring, mediocre roll, but I usually enjoy it if it’s prepared properly, which it was here. My mom remarked as a whole that although all the sashimi dishes were served with ginger, she thought that there should have been more ginger with every dish.
Lastly, our bill. It was a pleasant surprise because they brought us Pocky instead of the typical mint candies! A nice touch. Overall, I felt that the prices were a bit high, but that it was validated by the quality of the ingredients and the friendliness of the servers. You can’t really categorize this place with Sushi Garden and Sushi Town. They definitely use a higher quality of ingredients, put more care into the preparation of their food, and their servers are impeccably friendly and efficient. There’s also a peace to eating here that can’t be achieved at the other two, which are always bustling and a bit chaotic. The sushi chefs were also personable and I saw quite a few people sitting at the small bar exchanging pleasantries with them. Matoi Sushi is a bit out of the way for those who don’t live in the area, but if you’re ever enjoying a day at Coquitlam Centre, I’d definitely recommend you’d give them a try!
490-3025 Lougheed Highway