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Restaurant Review: Matsutake

The best all-you-can-eat sushi lunch is served at Matsutake in Herndon at Worldgate

We all know the type—people who simply adore sushi. They would eat it every day if it were available, possibly every meal, and talk about it all the time. Herndon has a restaurant that should be put on their speed dial directory.

Sushi-lovers flock to the "best buy" in the Herndon/Reston area—Matsutake's all-you-can-eat lunch. Tucked into the middle of the Worldgate Center, this quaint Japanese Steak House restaurant is wildly popular with the business lunch crowd. 

The all-you-can-eat buffet lunch is available for $13.95 weekdays from 11:30 till 2 pm., and Saturdays from noon till 2:30 p.m. Not a low-price lunch, because sushi rarely is a low-budget item. Ordering off-the-menu items are similar in price, such as their boxed lunches, but the main attraction is their buffet. (I have been there for lunch several times, and have not seen anyone order off their menu for lunch.) Hot tea is included in their lunch buffet.

This is not just sushi buffet, but a bounty of cold salad and vegetable selections--from crisp greens and ginger-peanut dressing, to marinated fresh vegetables in a whirl of interesting spices and dressings, perfectly-sliced tofu, and succulent fresh fruit, which tasted as good as it looked. Their hot bar is equally tasty, for those in the group who are not crazy about sushi, or who want to try something different. Of the hot dishes, I recommend the sesame chicken wings, beef tataki, fried gyoza, and beef bolgogi.  

For lunch, arrive early, as the restaurant quickly fills up. To their credit, the sushi chefs are standing at attention nearby to replenish all of the popular items, such as fresh tuna sushi. Grab a plate from the stack behind the salad bar, and make your way to the line shuffling past the sushi plates. Don't try to swim upstream here, just wait patiently in line as it moves pretty quickly. Pick up wasabi and ginger as desired, and a pair of tongs before you hit the plates of sushi.

For vegetarians, there are lots of vegetable options such as California rolls, with swirls of avocado, seaweed, cucumber, pistachio nuts, carrots and peppers. Their "crunchy" California rolls are worth trying—a crunchy exterior with sesame seeds gives an extra burst of flavor in your mouth.

Another star is their homemade soup—especially their miso soup.   

The service is prompt and attentive, even when they were very crowded at lunchtime. They know that the rush of khaki pants and polo-shirted-businessmen need to make a quick exit back to work, so they will expedite a check when requested.             

Do not overlook this amazing restaurant for dinner, as you are in for a real show, with their hibachi grills. More showman than a chef, the well-trained knife-wielding chef greets his guests seated in a semi-circle around him. He begins to chop and slice at lightning speed and first courses are served. People are usually relaxed and talkative, even when you are complete strangers at the table.  Then come the flames—the chef will usually warn you to lean back—shooting high up into the air as he puts on his show. Morsels of shrimp are playfully tossed at the guests, who play the part of trained seals with mouths open ready to have a morsel flung in their direction. It is great fun, and the food is generous and delicious. Cost is usually $23.95 to $26.95 and includes a soup and salad course.

For those short on time and energy, this restaurant also delivers sushi and a large number of menu items. See their online web-order site at www.matsutakejapanese.com. For all-you-can-eat sushi lovers, it is nice to know you do not need to drive all the way over to Todai in Fair Oaks.

Reena Ballard September 09, 2011 at 02:29 PM
LOVE this place! My husband and I take friends, colleagues, and family here pretty regularly. The staff is friendly and the food is great. We usually go for the hibachi meals and sushi on occasion. Their fried rice is delicious - and even better if you ask them to go light on the butter. =P
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) September 09, 2011 at 03:29 PM
My friends and I go here pretty regularly for the lunch buffet. We love it. :)
Nancy Loughin September 09, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Love the sushi buffet! And,the hibachi dinners are a lot of fun, and the food is delicious!
Barb Welsh September 10, 2011 at 11:19 AM
We've often gone here for lunch, but it's a particular favorite for the kids for a special occasion at dinner--they love watching the hibachi chefs entrance them with their cooking skills. Be prepared to leave with a full belly!
Angeline Gatz September 28, 2011 at 05:40 PM
For some years now, this place has been our go-to whenever we can't decide on what to eat. And for those other times that we do decide to go for sushi, this is still the place we go to. I think they need to start offering a frequent grubber card.
Rich November 21, 2011 at 05:56 PM
I loved Matsutake until today - I've eaten there many times. Just came back from lunch with my wife. After eating a plate of sushi and going back for seconds, I noticed the lite soy sauce wasn't pouring properly. After looking more closely, I realized (and wait staff confirmed) that there was a cockroach stuck in the spout - which must have been in the bottle the whole time. The restaurant initially tried to take 30% off my bill, but after pushing on the issue they agreed to waive the charges. I know bugs happen, but I don't know that I can bring myself to eat there again.
Leslie Perales Loges (Editor) November 22, 2011 at 04:22 AM
This is so unfortunate to hear. Hopefully they correct it and learn to improve their response from this experience, though I definitely wouldn't blame you not going back.

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