Jarrett Wrisley first wrote about Matsuri 123 in a post on Shanghaiist earlier this year. We thought we’d check it for ourselves and share our thoughts.
Some of the more indisputable comments about the Hongqiao/Gubei area is that it is a mecca of sorts for great Asian cuisine. The large concentration of expats from neighboring regions have created demand for authentic and high quality Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese fare.
The owners of the Matsuri 123 “Food Stadium” apparently decided to tack themselves in a different direction, eschewing quality and taste for an in-your-face carousel of Japanese selections wrapped up in a garish bundle of kitsch. The restaurant consists of 12 sub-restaurants, each specializing in a different Japanese cooking style (sashimi, udon, yakitori, tempura, etc). We have to give the concept some credit, if not for the curiosity factor that succeeded in drawing us in for weekend brunch, then for the funhouse aspect that the hordes of prepubescents running around the joint clearly loved. We usually like kids, but not when they’re on their 5th scoop of green tea ice cream and looking to play bumper cars with the staid adults juggling three bowls of hot, miso soup on their trays. This is clearly a family destination, at least on the weekends, with enough decorative distractions and huge floorspace for parents to let their kids roam dangerously free.
Our point is, be careful when considering Matsuri as your next all-you-can-eat Japanese stop. Mushy tempura, dry tonkatsu, limp nigiri can be found many places in Shanghai, but only choose this purported food stadium if you’re in the mood for a carnival. We’re not exactly slamming the place; we could see ourselves coming back with less discerning friends, as some of the hamachi sashimi and udon were quite tasty. But for those looking to sit down and divert their attentions to decently cooked and presented all-you-can eat, it’s better to head in another direction.
Matsuri 123 – 4/F 951 Hongxu Lu, near Yan’an Lu (虹许路951号4楼, 近延安西路) Phone: 6262-7123, Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sat-Sun 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Price: 128 RMB for lunch, 198 RMB for dinner
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.