In the critically acclaimed documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the audience meets 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono and learns about his restaurant in a subway station. So going to eat sushi in Florence, Ky. is kind of like that. Kinda.
Back in January I was invited to a gathering of friends on a Friday night at Matsuya. Crossing the Brent Spence into southern territory was a refreshing change from a weekend evening in downtown or OTR. Of course had I known I was basically driving to the airport, I might have jumped a flight to one of the coasts for some supremely fresh sushi. My skepticism only increased when I pulled into a '90s era strip mall adjacent to a Marathon Gas Station. But then I remembered there are a lot of Japanese immigrants in Kentucky because of Toyota, and I was only a few steps away from a Sapporo. Thus, all would soon be right in the world.
Our merry band of 15 were located in the tatami seating--traditional Japanese style where guests are asked to remove their shoes and sit sans chairs. Kewl.
While much of the place felt authentic, at least to a mid-20s white girl who has never been to Japan but has seen The Last Samurai, our waiter was anything but. He reminded me of an aloof character from a Kevin Smith movie. Still, he tried.
My order was nothing special--ginger salad, miso soup, edamame and an assortment of rolls--but hot 'wasabi' damn, it was good. Really good. The beauty and joy of Japanese food is in the simplicity. Take a really great piece of fish, add some rice, veggies, and a dab of soy. Forget about the Americanized cream cheese rolls and the over sauced toppings. Keep it easy. Keep it fresh. And you'll keep me coming back.
Matsuya Japanese Restaurant is located at 7149 Manderlay Dr. Florence, KY 41042