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Yakko San vs Matsuri?

Dear Chowhounds,

I want to have a special meal between X-Mas and New Years. So based on my intent to "pork out" on either end, I thought that Japanese would help to somewhat clear out the arteries in between.

I've read how Yakko San does not do sushi per se, but does have sashimi. I've also read that the recently reopened Matsuri has a stellar rep among many hounds as the best sushi in our area and would imagine that they have equally great sashimi as well.

What I need your help with is: Whose sashimi would you pick? What menu item would be your favorite/or must order at each place? Are the prices similar? Is there a variety of sake available at each? I know Hiro does tempura does Matsuri also have (a member of my party doesn't like raw anything, oh well, more hamachi for the rest of us:)).

Thank you Chowhounds in advance for your enlightment and opinions.!

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  1. Can't comment on Matsuri but I am a big fan of Yakko San. I get the pork belly every visit. The sashimi is very good. So much to try. Great place

    Frod, did a great job on a prior post covering some of their dishes. I know he is in Vegas so here is the link. (chowstalker)

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350490
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/422505

    7 Replies
    1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

      TY so much,

      I knew Frod was a big fan. I've heard that its a late night place, does that mean its better to experience after midnight? Thanks again for your help sobe.

      1. re: eatnbmerry

        Sobe, thanks for posting the links in my absence (Vegas was fantastic, still in process of posting on it on SW board).

        I've only gone to Yakko San late a couple times, we more often go with the whole family early Sunday evenings (indeed, we're now at the point that my kids are "regulars", and the waitstaff ask about them when we show up without them!).

        It's definitely a different scene late - often a lot of restaurant biz folks getting off work and getting a late night bite. But keep in mind that a lot of the "fresh catch" fish of the day will be gone by late night, though there's still plenty of items from the regular menu and the many cooked specials.

        I've only been to Matsuri once so it's tough for me to compare. They are certainly different places. Matsuri is more of a typical sushi place, though the quality of the fish is outstanding and the variety of items available is broader than many other places I've been locally. Yakko San is more of a place to visit for the various tapas dishes, though their sashimi is also very good.

            1. re: Frodnesor

              Wow Frod,

              Beautiful, descriptive reviews. BTW, did you have anytime to gamble :).

              1. re: eatnbmerry

                Not enough to pay for the meals - also not enough so that I could no longer afford the meals! Just about right.

      2. We tried Matsuri for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Good food, but I thought it didn't live up to expectations given the recommendations on this board (and from a couple of friewnds from South Miami) Granted, much better than anything I can get in South Beach and the prices, IMO, were good value, so we will probably revisit. But Yakko San continues to be my favorite....

        1. Another vote for Yakko San. I've had limited sashimi there, but it has always been pretty good. Really, since sashimi is so common and their other menu items aren't, I usually don't get sashimi there. Their kimchi hot pot is killer, as is the oyakodon. Really, I haven't had too many dishes there that I wouldn't order again.

          1. Ty both for your recs,

            Sounds like Yakko San is favorite of a lot of hounds and so to NMB I go. Will let you know how it goes.

            Thanks again to all!

            7 Replies
            1. re: eatnbmerry

              I have never been to Yakko San but Matsuri is by far the best sushi and Japanese food in Miami, IMO. The new menu has a lot of new items that are delicious. Also, the fish is incredibly fresh. Last time I was there, the tuna uzusukuri was so fresh that it had a deep purple color to it. Very tasty and quite an atmosphere with the new renovation. I recommend giving it a try. Cheers!

              1. re: Blind Mind

                Glad the tuna was good, but light red vs. dark red color is not particularly an indication of freshness. Some tuna are naturally lighter or darker in color depending on species and season. Here's an example ->
                http://beyondsalmon.blogspot.com/2006...

                Also (and I'm most definitely NOT suggesting Matsuri is doing this, only noting) brightly colored tuna can be induced artificially (including, jeez, through exposure to carbon monoxide) ->
                http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/06/din...

                The highly prized cuts of fatty tuna, the chu-toro and o-toro, are typically streaked with white ribbons of fat and will often be lighter in color or sometimes brownish.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  Right on the chu-toro and o-toro. Thats why its called "fatty" tuna. Bluefin tuna is the same way. I just know from catching fresh yellowfin and eating it right then and there that it has a deep red/purple color to the flesh. But let's not get caught up in semantics. The fish at Matsuri is high quality at a good price and I love it. ;)

                  1. re: Blind Mind

                    Frod,

                    Have you ever tried the sushi place next to yakko san? When I passed by there today (scouting for my visit later this week :) it looked like it was an extension of the restaurant?

                    1. re: eatnbmerry

                      My understanding is that Sushi Express and Yakko San have the same ownership (I believe they are both "Hiro's", there is also a Hiro's full-blown sushi restaurant on 163rd St. east of Biscayne). There are now several Sushi Express spots around town. I have not gone to the Sushi Express next to Yakko San but did once try the one around 50th & Biscayne and it was disappointing. Not in any way representative of what you'll get at Yakko San.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        TY Frod,

                        Without inflating your ego too much, YOU ARE a treasure trove of foodie info.

                2. re: Blind Mind

                  TY BM,

                  I apprecite your input very much. As I am a big fan of japanese and asian cuisine as a whole (most of my favorite restaurants are same) I plan to eventually try both.

              2. I've eaten at both places several times.
                Matsuri is great for nigiri/sashimi (my favorite in miami)
                Hiro's is great for izakaya (check the specials menu)
                http://www.yelp.com/list_details?list...

                1 Reply
                1. Now I've tried them both and I can only say that we are SO fortunate to have these two places in our locale! I now understand ankimo, most perfectly the distinction you made between the two and why.

                  If any of you are interested in reading the posts on my respective visits here are the links:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44233...

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42250...

                  Saying this after only eating at each place once is perhaps jumping the gun some what, but I retain the right to always change my mind after the ongoing meals I will certainly be having at both in the coming months and hopefully years.

                  The only common item I have had at both is the maguro, nigiri style at Matsuri and sashimi style at Yakko San. The edge for now goes to Matsuri in that the fish seemed to "melt"/"disintegrate" more readily than at YS. It is more of a texture quality than necessarily a taste difference (honestly, the distinction is hard to make and I'm not a good enough writer to express it any better so forgive me).

                  On the other hand, I really enjoyed the ambience and spirit of Yakko San much more than the more refined and modern style of Matsuri, but that is more of a personal preference rather than something more emperical for the most part. In the end, I eagerly look forward to tasting the many dishes each establishment offers and like I said before I can and probably will go back and forth as to who is "better."

                  However, not one to fence sit, and in the spirit of the OP, I will currently rate Yakko San as the "best overall" Japanese eating establishment that I have dined at in SoFla. And possibly the best overall experience I have had since moving back from California.

                  Ty to all for recs and lets enjoy the "race" cause it can only lead to more great chow!!