My family and I used to frequent Nagano near Coquitlam Centre a lot, before it’s closed temporarily due to a fire. Since then, we have been going to Matoi at Sunwood Square by Lougheed Highway.
This time around, in addition to our usual staple, we also tried a few new things. First, Fresh Sea Urchin (uni). I mean, the whole thing! If you follow me on Instagram, then you would see the video of the live sea urchin as it arrived at our table. The flesh had some natural sweetness, not stringy, and didn’t have the unpleasant fishy taste that some may have. It was served with strips of nori (seaweed), and with a few drops of soy sauce, the taste of sea was accentuated. It’s not cheap but definitely an occasional treat that’s worth every nickel (as we phased out our pennies hehe).
Usually Japanese restaurants serve Beef Sashimi almost tataki style, with a quick sear on the outside. Not here. It was straight up slices of raw beef, and with a dip into the yuzu based sauce, you can actually taste the beefy flavour. Our order had some nice marbling, so the meat slices just melt in your mouth. I was hesitant about the 100% raw beef but it was actually really good.
We usually add conch to our soup, so Conch Shell Sashimi was a first for all of us. Because I have never had it before, I had imagined it to be similar to geoduck, with a semi-translucent flesh. But I was wrong, so I can’t tell whether it was slightly blenched or it’s actually raw. It had a hint of fishiness that you expect in shellfish, a crunchy yet slightly chewy texture. It was a fun and adventurous dish to have. I quite liked it.
Of course, we didn’t forget our staple sushi rolls. The Unagi and Chopped Scallop Rolls were both really good. There was a generous serving of unagi per piece of the sushi roll, so it definitely satisfied my craving for unagi. The chopped scallop tasted fresh, not fishy and not overly dressed with mayo; I wish there was more chopped scallop in the roll, though, as half of the roll was basically cucumber aka filler.
The Dynamite Roll here was huge! It had not one, but two prawn tempura! They were freshly fried, so they were still warm, and crispy. It’s a bit messy to eat because of its sheer size, compared to most other dynamite rolls out there, but it was a pretty good dynamite roll.
The Deluxe Assorted Sashimi don’t always come with the same list of items, as with most other Japanese restaurants. Chefs select what’s fresh and what’s available on that day. Our selection this evening wasn’t all that interesting. It had salmon, tuna, hamachi, taco (octopus), spot prawns and flounder. Flounder was probably the most interesting item on that plate as I’ve never had it before, but being a white fish its flavour was on a rather light side so nothing to hit home with. That being said, the salmon and tuna were nice and fatty; tuna was not stringy at all and melted right in your mouth. I liked that they already deep fried the prawn heads, so you can just munch on this crispy treat (or in Mr.‘s case, ate the entire thing leaving no traces of it whatsoever!)
Then we moved onto some hot dishes. The Mentai Kimchi Yaki Udon looked like a simple dish, but it tasted really good. Saltiness from the fish eggs, sour and spice from the kimchi, then creaminess from the sauce — it was a great combination of flavours. Umami, may I say? I would love to make this at home!
There was a good selection of items in the Assorted Tempura: prawns, zucchini, carrot, kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), yam and sweet potato. Every piece of vegetables was crispy on the outside, and nice and soft inside without being watery or making the tempura batter soggy.
Lastly, the Chicken Karaage Don was pretty well done. The chicken pieces were nicely marinated and fried to have slight crispiness on the outside. The rice bowl comes with teriyaki sauce and mayo on top, but you could ask to have one or both of them on the side. I’ve asked for the mayo on the side, which I thought was a good move as the mayo would just make this too rich of a rice bowl. We still think Hi Genki does this the best.
I was reading some of the reviews of this restaurant and service quality seems to be the issue here. Diners were complaining about how slow the service was. It was a Saturday evening when we went for a 6:30pm reservation. Our table was ready for us as we arrived. It was a busy evening, but not jam-packed nor did I see a long lineup at the door. There was just a constant stream of customers coming and going until about 8:00pm. Servers were attentive actually, coming back often to refill our tea and clear our empty plates. I thought the service was quite good.
Oh and I should mention that instead of candies, or nothing, you would get a pack of chocolate Pocky with your bill 🙂
The food here at Matoi is great and dishes are reasonably priced. You could be adventurous and order from the fresh sheet, or stick with the Japanese staple. There are some unique items that you can’t find at all Japanese restaurants, especially in the suburb. Definitely a go-to place for us in Coquitlam.
#490-3025 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam