2006-05-17 / Restaurant of the Week

Midori Matsu

111-16 Queens Blvd. Forest Hills + 718-263-4110

With 12 hibachi stations that each seat eight to 10 people and two more hibachi stations in a private party room, Midori Matsu is easily

          the largest and most authentic Japanese hibachi restaurant and sushi bar in all of Queens. Located on bustling Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, Midori Matsu opened this past January to rave reviews from diners who come from near and far to dine on the freshest of sushi, prepared on the spot, and to experience the art of Japanese hibachi cooking, where the well-trained hibachi chefs work their skillful magic on the grill to create delicious meals with a bit of drama for all to enjoy. Dinner is also theater at Midori Matsu.

As you enter, you'll find that the sushi bar to your left features the freshest catches of the day, including melt-in-your-mouth tuna, salmon, yellow tail and fluke, all used in the preparation of artful sushi and sashimi rolls that will delight your eyes as well as your palate. A peaceful waterfall and pond are full of real koi, prize Japanese goldfish. Midori Matsu has a full bar featuring Japanese beer and a host of tropical cocktails. The Midori Matsu Tango is made with Midori liqueur, vodka and fruit juices. Try the Tokyo peach or classic Pina Colada, too. Inventive sake cocktails are also mixed up at the bar, or you can order your favorite sake rice wine, served hot or cold in delicate ceramic cups.

Sushi diners can eat at the sushi bar, while those who plan to experience hibachi cooking are escorted into the large dining room and seated around one of the gleaming, stainless steel hibachi grills. Start with appetizers such as shrimp or scallop tempura, lightly battered with pancko crumbs, deep fried and served with a unique dipping sauce ($7.55). Shumai steamed dumplings are filled with shrimp, while panfried gyoza dumplings are served with garlic sauce.

You can also start your meal with a sampling of fresh specialty sushi or hand rolls, all made to order with the highest quality, sushi-grade fish. Rolls start at just $3.75 and are ideal for sharing. Slices of bright orange salmon are artfully placed on a mound of sushi rice. Tekka Maki, firm, fresh tuna on rice, just melts on your tongue. The Spider Roll is made with crunchy soft shell crab, cucumber and avocado for an amazing combination of flavors and textures. If you enjoy spicy food as much as I do, then try the spicy tuna roll with its little kick of flavor. Some specialty rolls not to be missed are the signature Midori Matsu roll, the Denny's roll and the Queens roll, all of which offer plenty to share. All these great rolls are beautifully presented on sparkling platters with plenty of soy sauce and fresh wasabi and sliced ginger for spicing up the sushi. Complete sushi entrees come with a bowl of miso soup, green salad, steamed rice and Japanese green tea for just $15.95 to $21.95. With take out and delivery also available, you can enjoy these great meals at your home or office, too.

When our hibachi chef approached his grill, he introduced himself and pointed out all the ingredients he'd be using to prepare our meal. The Midori Matsu Special included all our favorite items: steak, lobster and shrimp or scallops. We marveled at the skill with which he sliced through fresh vegetables, onions and a 12-ounce steak. A lobster tail was swiftly removed from its shell and chopped into bite-sized pieces right in front of us. A special order of fried rice with chicken was also prepared at blinding speed. Within minutes, a full meal for two was prepared and served piping hot from the grill. Hibachi specialty combinations include steak and chicken, chicken and shrimp, steak and shrimp, tuna, salmon, lobster and more. The prices are reasonable, considering the freshness and quality of the ingredients, and the fact that the hibachi dinners are served with Japanese onion soup, Midori Matsu salad, shrimp tempura, vegetables, steamed rice and hot green tea.

For dessert, try the tempura cheesecake, but don't tell your doctor! Ice cream tempura or banana tempura are just as decadent, though you can opt for plain ice cream or sherbet.

This restaurant is a wonderful place to celebrate a birthday for any age. Two tables nearby were celebrating birthdays as the staff delighted them with a song in Japanese. You can also dazzle your guests at your next birthday party or other special occasion in Midori Matsu's private party room with two hibachi grills. Indeed, Midori Matsu is a great place for a group or for anyone desiring fine Japanese sushi and hibachi cuisine. Children and adults alike will be amazed at the chef, who creates a volcano made of onions, a heart made of rice and tosses a real egg on the edge of his steel spatula with ease and grace. Best of all, the resulting food is hot and delicious.

Visit Midori Matsu for dinner and a bit of theatre as well. Frequent diners can sign up for a special V.I.P. card which gives them a 10 percent discount each time they dine. Midori Matsu is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Free valet parking is provided and take-out and delivery are available. Celebrations in the main dining room or the private party are a big hit, too. The food is delicious and the service is fast and friendly. Arigato Midori Matsu! 

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