Often, for dinner

Pasadena has a plethora of sushi options. Downtown Pasadena alone has Osawa, O2 Sushi, SushiStop, A’Float Sushi, as well as various poke houses. Lake Street boasts Sugarfish and Noda Sushi. As you head east along Green Street, you’ll run into Sushi of Naples, Maison Akira and the subject of today’s post: Matsuri.

Matsuri’s menu offerings have great variety. Sushi rolls, sashimi platters, nigiri, bento boxes, udon, chirashi, it’s all here and accounted for. They also offer a large omakase dinner platter for those adventurous sushi snobs. We were both nursing cravings, so neither of us ordered anything other than sushi. As you can see from the images, one of us was much hungrier than the other.


To be fair, most sushi eaters aren’t as snobbish as we are. I was actually slightly upset when the entire platter came out at once – how was I supposed to keep everything fresh as I worked through it? The star of the sashimi platter was the tuna, which was present in all its forms: red, fatty, and spicy. The flavor outshone that of the great American favorite, salmon. Oyster, eel, squid, uni, hamachi, scallop, shrimp, the list goes on and on. The fish was fresh and succulent, and the portion size was well worth the price. In fact, Matsuri ranks pretty high up on the list for sushi in Pasadena. Osawa and Sugarfish are slightly higher quality, and a chunk of cash more expensive, and none come even close to our top two places – Yume (Alameda, CA) and n/naka (Los Angeles, CA). Then again, those two were hundred-dollar-per-meal places.

The problem is that sushi is more of a science and less of an art. I don’t believe in sushi rolls with deep-fried, mayonnaise covered everything. And don’t even mention cream cheese. Cream cheese and salmon belong on a bagel, not on rice. For a chef, leaving his personal mark on great fish is a risk, and if you’re a purist, good news: Matsuri doesn’t take that risk.

Sushi is like wine. It’s a world unto itself, and it can leave your wallet empty in the quest to find the best. The quality of the food at Matsuri is consistent, and its price makes it a great entryway for those interested in trying more types of fish. For those already spoiled, though, it’s still safe to walk in hungry. Just don’t expect any life-changing experiences.

3 stars


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