Matsutake

Written by on November 29, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(No website found at time of publishing) – Ballston neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: My friend Seraj introduced me to Matsutake when we were invited to celebrate his birthday at a hibachi restaurant. Our visiting friends wanted sushi nearby on this cold, rainy evening and Matsutake won the bill.

Type of cuisine: Japanese, as well as hibachi-style meals. Appetizers such as gyoza and chicken-lettuce wraps, miso soup and edamame, as well as an a la carte menu featuring Japanese- and Korean-inspired cuisine (teriyaki, steak, bengogi), a full sushi bar and their lengthy hibachi selections.

Matsutake

Ambiance: Nearly floor-to-ceiling windows surround the space that is Matsutake. The walls, unevenly cut stones in tans and browns, give the space a rustic, yet modern appeal. Fabric room dividers, like half-curtains with sumo wrestlers and kabuki artists separate the space between the kitchen and the sushi bar, the restaurant and the restrooms. Small, wooden shelves host wooden model boats, ceramic vases, and Japanese style, laminate bowls and flat sushi plates. Inset lights line the high ceilings, creating dim, mood lighting, while round, brown-colored paper lanterns with the bonsai tree and flower decorations fall over the sushi bar. Light, bamboo-colored wooden chairs line the sushi bar, and are also found throughout the establishment, at tables separated by wooden banisters holding glass with etched flowers, creating a cubicle-like space between parties. Lone paper umbrellas can be found over a couple of tables closest to the windows overlooking Wilson Boulevard. Three or four hibachi grills, with seating at the bar for eight, laughing and joyous, surprised and excited patrons, look onto the grill, where your chef entertains and prepares the meal you are about to enjoy.

What I ordered: My husband went with the tried and true Steak & Chicken ($14.95), which came served hibachi-style, with fried rice, two grilled shrimp on the side (to share with one of our dining companions) and a selection of seasonal vegetables (broccoli, mushrooms, onions and bean sprouts). The meal also came with miso soup and a salad of iceburg lettuce, red cabbage and julienned carrots with a ginger-mayo vinaigrette that we all shared. Two of us went with sushi. My selection included: Spicy Tuna Roll ($6 for six pieces), Shrimp Tempura Roll ($7 for six pieces) & Unagi ($5 for two pieces). Our fourth dining companion selected the Rock n Roll ($12 for six pieces), Philly Roll ($6 for six pieces) and the Spicy Yellow Tail Roll ($7 for six pieces).

My Sushi Plate

What I loved: Our Shirley Temples were the most tasty, refreshing and had the most fun presentation! Among the food options, I loved the salad, the fried rice and the fresh avocado in my tempura roll the most.

Why I loved it: It is always a treat to meet your chef, joke with him and watch him in action, as he creates onion volcanoes, spins and tosses raw eggs without breaking them, and wows and awes with pyrotechnics throughout the preparation and creation of your meal.

Cost: Average to high ($24-$35 per adult-sized hibachi dinner entree)

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