411 E 70th St (1st Ave & York Ave)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 744-4447
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Japanese
Area: East 70s
This sushi- and- other- Japanese- delights place is handy if you are visiting someone at any of the nearby hospitals (New York Hospital, Hospital for Special Surgery, etc.) It attracts people who work at these institutions and does a land office takeout business. The place is almost always packed so the noise level can be fairly high but not unbearable.
Matsu isn’t fancy but neither is it a dump. The green bamboo-esque interior is soothingly dim and service is pleasant. The salmon teriyaki bento box is a lot of food for $14, containing not only the salmon but also veggies, a California roll and three shumai, with miso soup, rice and green salad. The salmon entrée (a dollar less) is an even larger portion minus the trappings but with the vegetables. You can also have a bento with chicken, beef, tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and other mains. The “Rolls to Remember” are imaginative like the Mango Tango with salmon, cucumber and mango that comes topped with tuna and tobiko in a fruity sauce and the lobster tempura, cucumber and onion with a spicy mayonnaise sauce called the Manhattan Roll. Don Buri dishes have a protein (chicken, beef, fried chicken or shrimp tempura) served with vegetables and an egg on top of a mound of rice and come with miso soup and a salad with your choice of dressing. Tempura dishes are fairly greaseless whether the selection is pork or chicken cutlet, “regular” meaning all veg or mixed selection of shrimp, chicken and vegetables.
A seat at the sushi bar provides a view of the four sushi chefs at work, slicing, dicing and assembling very fresh fish. At lunch there are a number of specials including a choice of any two or three rolls from a big selection with either white or brown rice. All Matsu’s sushi are on the big side which means a fairly high ratio of rice to fish. If your taste runs to a high level spice, order the jalapeño with yellowtail appetizer. There are several salads, among them, hijiki, a seaweed type of vegetable, one with salmon skin (an acquired taste but good if salt is big on your food list) and avocado.
Sushi and sashimi are what it’s all about here but noodles are available either stir-fried or in soup that can include seafood, just shrimp, chicken, etc. Why you would want tempura in soup beats me because the point of tempura is the crispness that gets drowned in the broth but it’s on the menu. Desserts are the typical offerings like fried banana, ice cream or moochi in vanilla, red bean or green tea flavors. Besides the usual soda suspects, Matsu serves beer, sake and wine. I wouldn’t anticipate a vintage wine here but if a glass of white is your fave accompaniment to sushi, you’ll be fine.
A note about delivery service: mostly, I’ve found it pretty quick. Obviously it depends on how far you are from the spot and how frantic the restaurant is when you phone.
Review By: Mari Gold