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Matsumoto - Wed, 5th Nov 2008
48 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Ph: (03) 9380 9288
Prices: Main $12.50 - $39.80
Style: Japanese
20th Aug 2017
   

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Review by Lachie
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 booking is 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) and Tonkatsu(fried 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 to behold.

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 your evening.

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.

 

We ate:
Entree: Kaiso Salad, Gyoza and Yakitori
Main: Tonkatsu, Sushi Boat

We drank:
Asahi

 

 
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