Went to Matsuri last night, and had an "ok" experience. I was a big fan of Sono, which probably affected my expectations and my reaction, but I was not blown away.
First, the positives. The room is lovely -- spacious, airy, and beautifully furnished and decorated. Also, the prices were fairly reasonable (small plates generally in the $6 to $10 range; large plates in the $10 to $20 dollar range).
The food itself was fine, but not as great as I was expecting. The waitress told us that the best things on the menu were the eel tempura and the miso cod. The tempura was nice -- not overly fried, and the eel was tender and tasty, but again, nothing that special. Similarly, the cod was good, but very similar to the dish at Nobu (which can now be had at Kai and numerous other places), and not as good as the Nobu version (although, admittedly, less pricey). We also sampled a small plate of Kobe beef (served cold, with a mustard sauce), which was delicate and very good, and a large plate of duck with a wasabi sauce, which also was good but not spectacular. Since even the large plates were not full entree size portions, we also ordered the evening's special sushi sampler. It was expensive at 5 pieces for $18, and, again, fine but not great. Perhaps I'm spoiled, but it didn't hold a candle to the better sushi places in town. All in all, nothing bad, but nothing memorable.
The service was awful, but probably just a matter of working out the kinks. I don't hold it against them, since the place is so new. There was an interminable wait between courses, they forgot entirely about the sushi course, and they couldn't seem to figure out who should be serving our table. To their credit, they were apologetic about the problems, and when we told them to go ahead and cancel the sushi they forgot, they brought it out and didn't charge us.
Lastly, I like lively places, but this was a bit too trendy for my taste. The model crowd was out in force (my dinner companion said there was serious bulimia going on in the women's bathroom), as was the dark sunglass crowd, and Howard Stern was there (ugh), which almost made me lose my appetite. Sono, of course, was serene to the point of bankruptcy, but this was a bit much in the other direction.
Anyway, I'm sure I'll be back since the chef has a lot of good will with me, but perhaps not on a Saturday night.
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