Saturday, January 9, 2010

Matuba- Washington DC/Maryland

Now THIS I wish I had a picture of for you (Pictures here). Matuba in Bethesda. I mean sushi on a conveyor belt. I am a sushi fan. OK correction I am a Sashimi fan. But still, I had to check this place out. DH took me on a date, after I told him there was also other items offered on the belt. So we went early at my insistence, you know, to get a good seat so we could hoard, err sample the items as they were put on the belt instead of waiting at the end hoping others wouldn't grab that salmon before it got to you. Strategy people.
When we were finally let in (we were standing at the door like hungry wolves waiting for the kill, ok one of us was), the hostess took payment from the people who were also waiting at the doors before they opened, so we weren't the only party- there was one more :-). I felt like a stalker, but in the name of sushi- who cares. When you walk in it's a little confusing if you haven't been there before (us). The sushi bar is on the left and dining room on the right. No sign of what I am sure will be in heaven at the wedding feast- the conveyor belt. We quickly learned that the belt was located in the back, and you pay before you sit down. I didn't leave a tip up front. There is a jar in the back for that. As we walked up the stairs to the back I got a little giddy and did a happy food dance. I did notice that the place was clean, plenty of seating (so far) and the decor was nice. In the back there are tables on one side of the conveyor belt, for parties of I think 3 or more. In the end we were asked to sit in a certain place and not able to pick. Doesn't matter it's not a HUGE belt and we were still up close to the chef. The waitresses got our drink orders and the chef in the middle was ready to start. He was fast too because the place got packed quick with people standing in line at the stairs waiting for your seat.
The food-
Chicken Teriyaki- good quality chicken. Hot, well seasoned, not over cooked and rubbery. The waitresses brought it out fresh and put it on the belt little by little, nothing was there long enough to just go around and around.
Tempura- shrimp, sweet potato, zucchini and broccoli. (All on a little plate, a little sampling.) I was pleasantly surprised, this was also hot and fresh. Tempura has to be eaten hot and soon after coming out of the fryer or it's just not good. The batter was not too thick or thin it was perfect. The sweet potato and zucchini were cut thick, a little too thick for the delicate batter.
Fruit- there was fruit? Oh yeah, right, DH had some. Melons and oranges. Looked fresh, but I didn't eat any.
Miso soup- the soup is included but you need to ask for it. They don't ask you and they don't put it on the conveyor belt (wisely so). It's ok, not enough bonito flakes or flavor. It's a little bland.
Edamame- hot, fresh and perfectly seasoned with a coarse salt. YUM.
The Sushi- there wasn't as wide of a variety as listed on their website. No tilapia, mackerel, white fish, tamago, crab cake, or eel. The only nigiri passed was tuna and salmon. Maybe we got there TOO early.  I'm OK with that, I love salmon and the salmon at Matuba was fresh, and melted like BUTTAAAH in your mouth. SO very good. I don't eat a lot of nigiri, but it was nigiri or rolls. The rice wasn't great, it was fresh and short grain but not properly seasoned, if any seasoning/vinegar was even added. I couldn't tell. Which was odd to me since the chef stood in the center with a huge pot shaping as he went, so why not season and prepare the rice, leave it in the cooker ready to go? I ate some rice the rest I left. As far as rolls there was the California roll, DH had some of those. Salmon skin hand rolls which looked crisp, but I didn't have one. Some spicy tuna and salmon offerings which were good. I didn't have many- again not a huge rice fan or nori fan. The nori I DID have was crisp and not soggy and chewy, so that's nice. The Chef worked quickly, shaping rice and making nigiri, all rolls were premade and wrapped until needed.
Other items- there was this pork stuffed with broccoli that was deep fried. Really. The guys sitting next to us wouldn't try it and well my motto is try everything once but polka dancing and... never mind. When I picked it up it looked like a meat patty that was indeed tempura fried, and there was broccoli in it. It reminded me of Chicken Kiev. I only had one bite.
They also had Ramune, sake, beer, green tea. The tea was included in the buffet price and looking back the Ramune might have been also.
Will I go back? Yes.
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