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Spice up your life in this delicious eatery
Before my visit to Matsu I had no idea Japanese food could be so hot and spicy.
I should confess that I am not normally tempted by dishes which tend to leave me feeling like I can blow hot flames out of my mouth but Matsu’s Seafood Lo-Rice (£7.20) tickled my fancy.
Indeed, I originally opted for the mixed grill but was informed by the friendly and polite waitress that it was unavailable.
First of all, I opted for six chicken gyoza dumplings (£3.90) which were quite tough in comparison with the variety that is served in most Chinese restaurants.
However once I managed to bite into the hard exterior the chicken and sweetcorn combination inside was absolutely mouth watering.
There was a slightly spicy and salty soy sauce to dip them in but this provided no portent of what was to follow.
After I polished off the dumplings, the spicy fish curry arrived.
It was beautifully presented with juicy king prawns, fish, crunchy red peppers and mange tout smothered in a red chilli sauce and on a bed of lovely sticky rice.
But after my first mouthful I was tempted to call the London Fire Brigade to douse my mouth because of the searing heat from the dish.
Unfortunately, I had drunk a sweet yogurt-based Japanese drink called Calpico (£2.20) and I was soon flagging down the waitress for some tap water which she provided but not quite quick enough for my liking.
Two glasses later and I had manfully finished three thirds of the curry but unfortunately its burning heat had beaten me.
The one criticism of it is that for a seafood curry it certainly did not have a lot of seafood.
I was expecting rather more than the three king prawns and about four pieces of rather bland tasting fish in the dish but the red peppers were tasty, crunchy and seemed to match the hot chilli sauce very well.
For dessert I initially opted for Japanese red bean pancakes but for the second time I was told Matsu did not have what I wanted in stock - which was annoying as it took the shine off my dining experience.
Instead I chose three scoops of vanilla ice cream (£3.50) which was perfect for cooling my mouth after the spicy curry.
Matsu is a modern restaurant with plenty of light from the windows which allow diners to watch life outside on the busy Mile End Road in a cacooned atmosphere.
The service was pleasant and efficient and I did not feel ignored even when Matsu filled up with groups of young people getting stuck into sushi after a hard Monday at work.
I would return to Matsu because the food was good and the service friendly but next time I will consult the menu more thoroughly.
AT A GLANCE
MATSU 558 Mile End Road London E3 4PL
TEL: 8983 3528
VALUE FOR MONEY: A three-course meal for under £20 is definitely good value.
FAMILY FRIENDLY: There were no families there when I dined but there is plenty of space and the friendly staff would make most families feel welcome.
ACCESSIBILITY AND PARKING: Matsu is yards from Mile End Underground station on the Central, District and Hammersmith and City lines and three stops from Leyton and four from Leytonstone. The 25 from Ilford to Oxford Circus is one of the numerous buses which go past the restaurant.
GUARDIAN RATING: three stars
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