Matsuri Sushi: 8209 Nature’s Way #111 Bradenton, FL

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On a quest to find out if there’s anywhere else worthwhile, (aside from Ichiban’s awesome all-you-can-eat sushi for $20)  Gabriel and I decided to have dinner at Matsuri a few nights ago. It’s literally one mile from our condo- which is pretty darn convenient, and because of that, paired with the fact that there were lots of good reviews online, we thought we’d check it out. I should mention that we’d stopped in once before when we were heading to a wine tasting across from the restaurant, but we left because it had a very off-putting smell of sulphur. Staying true to my “I’ll try anything twice” motto, we gave it a second chance and were pleased to walk in this time and find no such returning offensive odor.

We sat immediately in a comfortable booth and the waitress brought our menus and water. We ordered a salad to share, a steamed gyoza appetizer, some assorted rolls and my standard, tamago sushi. In a sushi class I took a long time ago, I was taught that one of the true marks of a good sushi chef is well-cooked tamago. This basically means that there are no brown striations through it, and that it is fluffy and seasoned just right. In the same way that I choose a plain slice of pizza when I sample a new pizza place, or a pad thai when I try a new Thai place, I always get tamago when I go for sushi.

The salad and gyoza were both about average. The salad was not just a pile of boring iceberg lettuce, but actually nice dark mixed greens and other veggies. The dressing was not the classic ginger/carrot one that usually comes at Japanese restaurants, but a more unusual sweet and tangy vinegar based one. The gyoza was super fresh and really delicious, filled with fresh meat and veggies- it was different than what restaurants often serve, presumably right out of the freezer.

The rolls were pretty good but nothing to write home about. While the ingredients did seem fresh, the seaweed didn’t have the tell-tale fresh snap to it, and the rice seemed a bit too compressed and overcooked. The tamago, however, was awesome and done perfectly. I could have eaten about 4 more of those.

This was a decent amount of food for a decent price- but when it comes down to it, unless it’s blow-me-away good quality, I will have a hard time letting anything win out over Ichiban’s amazing deal. $20 for all you can eat AND the choices are creative, varied and numerous. Yup. That’s still the local winner for me.

 

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