Matsuri: Almost a Quarter-Century Later
Matsuri has been open since 1988. A quarter-century is a long time on Miami's dining scene. The restaurant, tucked in the middle of a random strip mall on Bird Road at Red Road, is not where you'd expect to find some of Miami's best and most affordable sushi, but that's exactly what you get here. What you won't get, however, is an English-language menu or much help ordering. Don't worry. That's what we're here for.
See also: Best of Miami 2008 - Best Sushi
Seven years ago, Matsuri was remodeled. The narrow eatery boasts a sense of calm and serenity -- after you finish with the long and arduous wait at the door. This is the kind of place you definitely want to make reservations for on the weekends. Even then, be prepared to wait.
Once you finally take a seat, bamboo wallpaper acts as a backdrop to the crowded booth and table seating in the front of the dining room. It is useful to scope out the dishes your neighbors are having, because the servers at Matsuri aren't much help with suggestions. The menu is extensive and heavy on authentic Japanese dishes.
Asked what her favorite item was, our waitress said, "I don't like to recommend anything because then people don't like it and they return it and don't want to pay for it." Talk about an up-sale.
Our next shot was a little less personal: "So, what do people order the most?"
Her response: "Everything. They get everything on the menu."
Touché. "We'll take one of everything, then." The expression on her face was priceless, but we quickly took back our comment.
Begin with miso soup ($2) and ginger salad ($2.50). Nothing special (the ginger salad and dressing at Shibui trump all others) other than warm and fresh comfort all at once. Matsuri offers a variety of other soups and salads, such as asari (miso with cherrystone clams -- $5) and a kanisu salad ($5).