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Matata Asian Cuisine - Middletown, NJ

Anyone remember Bando in Middletown, a Chowhound favorite a few years ago? This newbie, Matata, opened in their old space and was wondering if anyone has any G2 on them yet...

Matata Asian Cuisine
655 State Route 35
Middletown NJ 07748
(732) 671-8822

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  1. We enjoyed this new Asian Restaurant! Excellent, fresh sushi, unusual dishes, extremely polite & helpful staff! So far so good!

    3 Replies
      1. re: wench31

        No, they serve a variety of Asian dishes...Sushi & some Japanese as well as Thai, Chinese...

      2. re: Nativenewyorker2

        look forward to reying them out. Have heard decent things.

      3. I trust "Matata" is not the Swahili word popularized by The Lion King. Because according to Wiktionary that means "trouble, problems"!

        2 Replies
        1. re: drongo

          When Chinese people open up Japanese restaurants, they usually just make up Japanese sounding name that means nothing or use Japanese city/object as names (Tokyo, Kyoto, Sakura).

          1. re: drongo

            Never before has Hakuna been more crucial.... lol

          2. This place has been a chinese restuarant for the longest time. For like 20 years it was another name before bando. I am having a brain freeze but I think it had a "house" in the name.

            YCF, you are right (not to say they can't make decent sushi though.) Are there any monmouth country places that are actually Japanese owned/operated? Shiki is gone now.

            7 Replies
            1. re: corvette johnny

              Shiki blow's my mind, they were the "original" hibachi place(s) in NJ. I can't believe after 30+ years they are gone, the fact the location is a funeral parlor is just creepy to me.

              1. re: jrvedivici

                Really, Shiki was the original hibachi? That was our fave spot to go when we were kids.

                I remember our family going there one night, turns out my dad had entertained clients from Bell Labs there for lunch. What a good sport!

                And yes, so creepy to drive by and see it's a funeral parlor now.

              2. re: corvette johnny

                The only one I know of in Monmouth are Kazu in Howell and Taka in Ashbury Park. I have not tried either place.

                Not in Monmouth, but Ajihei in Priceton and Jo Sho in Franklin Park/Somerset are the other places I know of and tried.

                In NJ, Mitsuwa in Edgewater is the place to be for anything Japanese.

                  1. re: drongo

                    Ah that it is! I just could not remember.

                  2. re: corvette johnny

                    Hunan House and for years a meet up for my out of town friends. Loved their food, service and family nights buffet style. I never made it to Bando but I'll def. stop by the latest incarnation and hope for the best.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I went to the Hunan House for years. I loved how the whole family was involved and how they treated my children every time we went.
                      My friend and I were looking for somewhere to eat last night and we just happened to pass Matata; and we were both so glad we happened on this little place. This place is so Good and worth trying. The staff is so cute, overly helpful and friendly that it makes the place worth going to, almost regardless of what the food is like. They explained all the dishes in detail and what they ate and why they liked it. Their recommendations were right on target. Everything that we had was well prepared, well presented and delicious! I took cards for my friends and relatives because I know other will appreciate this place. This is my 1st and probably my last review. I will be at this restaurant again.

                  3. Beautifully prepared, delicious pan-Asian food. Cuisine of China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, plus sushi. BYOB a real plus for keeping the price down. We just had a lovely dinner for $24/person with tax and a generous tip.

                    1. Delish!! Always looking for great Asian food, and I am happy to report this place is awesome. The La Sa Tom soup(curry and coconut milk soup) is ridiculously good!!!! Szechuan dumplings were great! We shared the general tsos chicken and that was great too! Looking forward to returning and trying the more dishes!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: liznj73

                        it would help if "La Sa" (Laksa) is spelled correctly.

                        1. re: yCf

                          I am only spelling it the way it is on the menu!

                      2. Decided to go my self and check it out last week and was not overly impressed with the food. Nice ambience and helpful service but the food falls short of what you have been experiencing at Nemo in Keyport for the past several years. I would rate it simply OK. A word of caution for the rave reviews posted here by a couple of one-hit-wonders.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: CatLadyJan

                          I will get over there soon. The prices look pretty low for the "special" rolls. I'm interested in seeing how that pans out.

                          1. re: corvette johnny

                            I recently had a celebration lunch there with 20 friends from work (AT&T Labs). Everyone liked the food. About 5 folks had sushi or sashimi, and they all raved about it.

                          2. re: CatLadyJan

                            As this was my first review on Chowhound, I thank some of you for the warm welcome! LOL! One hit wonder!? It may be my first, but certainly not my last!! As for Matata, for this area (Middletown) I stand by my rating and review.

                          3. Checked out Matata for the first time today.

                            I had the $13.00 Bento box (which is enough food for 3 people!) It included: generous portions of shrimp shumai, tempura crab stick & vegetables, steamed rice, California rolls, chicken and broccoli, served with a side of any soup they offer and a small green salad with ginger dressing. A tall mug of green tea, the spicy girl roll out of curiosity (nice heat, very large portion for $9) skipped dessert and took half the Bento/roll home.

                            Excellent meal, nice staff and the place was dead a door mouse. Get over to Matata good people!

                            1. Went to Matata on Wed (Nov 27) because the parents were in town and wanted Chinese. Started with Snow Mountain roll from sushi bar (Shrimp Tempura/crunchy crab) that was big, fresh and delicious. It even won over my 18 year-old son because I convinced him to try it because each meat was cooked, not raw. Meso soup contained fish sauce, which was kinda an odd flavor for me, but was piping hot. Green tea was a little weak. Chicken with garlic sauce or brown sauce were average, standard fare, but a generous portion. Same with Shrimp with brown sauce and Hibachi Steak. General Tso chicken had very large pieces of chicken. I could not believe my son finished the plate. I went there specifically for the sushi to judge if their fish was fresh and it was. Sushi Deluxe did not disappoint, very nice. Dessert was Fried Cheesecake and Fried Ice Cream. Of course the kids devoured those, and grandma and grandpa enjoyed the first time novelty for them as well.
                              Not to many people in the small dining room (3-4 tables), so we had two servers frequenting the table throughout the meal, keeping our waters and teas full. Seems like they do a much bigger take-out business because customers were constantly coming in the door to pick up their orders and their delivery guy never left without a half dozen bags in his hands. Didn't get to see the check because my father grabbed the waitress for it without me knowing, so I do not know the final cost of the meal for six. But it is a BYOB, so we brought our own wine and beer and saved a few bucks.

                              1. ...Thai Crispy Chicken Breast :)

                                1 Reply
                                1. ..I am still having good experiences here. Ask for the crispy spicy tuna appy (not on the menu) and the FRIED CHEESECAKE!!! Awesome

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: yeepat

                                    I went last night for the first time. I was actually surprised. Going into it I said "a place making chinese, japanese and thai food" at once can't be good but I was wrong. I am not a "purist" so I will eat about anything and as long as the food is good and worth the price, I am good.

                                    The food was pretty tasty and this place won't break the bank. It wasn't amazing but then again, the prices are fair and I would like to try a few more dishes.

                                    We started with a 2.00 cup of hot/sour soup which was quite a large cup....well worth 2 bucks. My wife had the La Sa Tom soup (which I think should be Laksa)....nice big bowl for 5 bucks and quite tasty.

                                    For an app we had some type of sushi press roll the waitress recommended. It as actually decent and had tuna and fried eggplant inside (strange but it worked)

                                    Dinner was a duck dish the waitress recommended. I wanted shrimp and asked her if it was good. She hesitated and steered me into the duck. I politely asked that it come out crispy and she assured me that it would be good and crispy. She delivered and they even kept the sauce to the side so it wouldn't ruin the crispy skin....well done. This is a dish for duck people. You will have to cut around some fat and get your fingers greasy :)

                                    And the best dish I thought was the Vietnamese beef. These tender cubes of beef were bursting with flavor and cooked medium rare which really surprised me. I am not sure what cut this was but it was prob sirloin and marinated to break down the muscle tissue. It was really tender. For 15.00 this was a decent dish. Overall, I am ok with this place.

                                    I wonder if they have a second mandarin menu? There were some Asian customers and I might ask next time to see if they have any other creative dishes not on the regular menu.

                                    Yeepat, I will def try the thai crispy breast.