Thursday, January 10, 2008


This is the review of a less than good restaurant that I have been meaning to write for ages.

A Japanese restaurant was recommended by a Japanese acquaintance we met at a summer do. Seeing as we love ALL food, and that Japanese features quite high on the ‘loving it’ list we paid apt attention. Blindly thinking that a native of the country would know good food from bad where their national cuisine is concerned V & I finally decided to venture into town on a cold Saturday afternoon in November to try it out.

Matsuri is on High Holborn and is the less swanky sister of the one in Green Park (of which we had heard but not sampled). It’s on a corner plot just down the road from Holborn station and its tall glass walls use this fact by ruthlessly setting up everything inside in glaring light. On a warm summers day this would probably look quite beautiful as the wood and metal interiors could do with being lit up. As it was on the grey day we visited, the interiors seemed too lofty and spare in the dull but fulsome light. The pairing of extraordinarily high ceilings and sparse furnishings make it seem cold, leaving one feeling small and quite clinically like a lab rat. The word clinical is also apt for the service which was appallingly inattentive.

I cannot bear restaurants where the staff behave as if they are doing you a favour. Almost nothing gets my goat in quite the same way. But even that I am willing to put up with in the face of really good nosh. Sadly at Matsuri neither was quite up to the mark. From the rude hostess who claimed that the restaurant was fully booked up (when clearly half of it was empty and remained so for the entire duration of our stay) to the serving staff who could just not be bothered. We eventually got a table and ordered the set meal as it seemed to be better value and include everything on the main menu as an option. The appetizers were not appetizing, just sad non-fresh sushi/ sashimi set on a pretty plate. V’s main meal was organic teriyaki salmon and mine was corn fed chicken teriyaki, both served with rice (which was the only passably well cooked thing the entire meal). The fish and chicken were bland and overcooked, the teriyaki sauce much too sweet to be classified as anything other than dessert, both meals an abomination on Japanese food to say the very least. We have never looked as glum or disheartened at a meal in 2007 (that I can remember). Finally we managed to escape with some sort of autumn discount on weekend lunches which still left it quite pricey. The stand-offish staff and awful food meant that it was not worth even a quarter of what we paid. All this made for a disappointing meal, one of the worst in 2007. I don’t think you could convince me to go back. And I certainly wouldn’t encourage you to go.

I am thoroughly convinced that being native of a country is not the same thing as knowing good food from it.

Matsuri: 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6EA. Tel: 020 7430 1970


  1. Anonymous2:25 PM

    :-( Am sorry that your first foodie post of the year had to turn out this way!!

    Anyway, cheers to a great 2008 for both V & you....take care.

  2. First foodie post of this year but food of last year (November to be precise - look how long that awful aftertaste lasted!).

    Hopefully this year will have loads of good reviews....

  3. Hhmm, I should start writing some foodie posts too, but by the time i'm back from a restro all I can think of is sleep. Sigh!!