Japan Comes to Lygon St
If you head north along Lygon st far enough, it goes from kitsch Italian pizza
and pasta and the odd student hangouts of noodle and curry bars to an entirely
different beast. Once you're up beyond Brunswick road you'll find a
fair number of interesting restaurants well worth a visit, many of
them still very affordable.
Matsumoto sits on the corner of Lygon and Barkly St, where its
Japanese cuisine sits oddly
amongst its predominantly Indian and Middle Eastern neighbours. The
interior is cheery and completely unpretentious, with simple wooden
furniture and vibrant yellow walls. It can fill up quickly, so
recommended. If you miss out on a table, not to worry, there is always
the option of a take-away order.
One word of warning is that eftpos is no longer an option here, so
bring cash or a credit
card. While you're grabbing the cards, grab a bottle of wine as well.
Matsumoto's BYO policy
is a good thing, as the wine list consists of no more than a dozen
choices. That being
the case, there is always sake, or a good selection of Japanese beers
if the mood takes you. On this particular
visit Sarah and I both took that road and had a couple of Asahi.
Entree consists of generally what you'd expect at a Japanese
restaurant, sushi and sashimi in
various ways, mountains of seafood, and a selection other fairly
standard dishes. This time we opted for gyoza, yakitori skewers
and a Kaiso seaweed salad as our token attempt at a healthy option.
The Kaiso dish was considerably hotter than it has been on
previous visits, but still enjoyable. The gyoza and yakitori were
simple but tasty, the yakitori having a subtle smokey flavour that I
particularly enjoy. Other dishes bypassed
on this visit, but recommended from previous experience, are the spicy
salmon sushi and the beef tataki (raw
beef slices with garlic and raw egg).
Unsurprisingly, mains are where the real action is. You can choose
from one of a dozen or so
mains, roughly the same number of rice or noodle dishes, or if you're
that way inclined, opt
for a generous sushi platter. Of course, if you're really struggling
you can go for the bento
box, an excellent selection of tastes from across the menu. I had a
toss up between the
Tatsuta Age(deep fried marinated chicken with garlic & ginger)
crumbed pork with Japanese BBQ sauce), where I eventually opted for
the latter. Sarah decided it
was a night for what must surely be Matsumoto's signature dish, a
magnificently presented sushi platter
for two (we had with us a dining companion, Sarah wasn't sharing with
herself). What makes this
particular dish an excellent choice is not just the freshness and
quality of the sushi, but that the
platter arrives at the table as a large model boat, laden with your
meal. Quite a sight
While there is a dessert menu, I generally prefer more western tastes
than those on offer.
If you're similarly inclined it's only a few doors down to Gelo Bar.
Famous for their
gelato, there is also an impressive array of pastries and other sweet
indulgences at bargain prices. Otherwise,
settle in for some green-tea ice cream or tempura banana to top off
If you're after quality, but reasonably priced Japanese food and want
to move beyond the sushi
train, head up Lygon street and get yourself a sushi boat.
Entree: Kaiso Salad, Gyoza and Yakitori
Main: Tonkatsu, Sushi Boat