When she lived in Malaysia, Pauline Lee worked as a tour guide, showing travelers the sights of her native country. Now that she lives in the U.S., she's still guiding people but through the sometimes overwhelmingly delectable choices at her restaurant, Matsu Sushi in Westport. "People often call everything we serve 'sushi,' " she says. "But it's really more than that." As an example, she cites the raw fish dishes without rice which are technically known as sashimi. Fish served rolled inside or around dried and pressed layer sheets of seaweed is maki or roll.
Lee's guidance to diners goes well beyond just providing the proper names for the food she'll be happy to offer suggestions of which combinations go well together, and even the best order in which to eat them.
"Generally, you want to start with the lighter, less seasoned foods first," she said. "That way you can appreciate their flavor better."
She'll also help customers with the amount of food they order. Matsu Sushi offers both American and Japanese serving sizes, and the size and appetite of the dining party can determine how much of each dish to order. "If someone is ordering too much, we'll warn them," Lee says. Lee also expert in guiding party or corporate functions orders.
Even the finest points of sushi dining don't escape Lee's trained eye. "Some people will put the sauce dish on the left, and if they're right-handed they have to reach across their food to dip it," she says. "I'll show them it's better on the other side. Our feeling is, take care of the customer, and they will take care of you," through return visits and good word of mouth.
Located on Jesup Green, Matsu Sushi is always busy, especially in the summer with takeout meals for concerts at the Levitt Pavilion. That makes for a rapid turnover of ingredients, which Lee makes sure are always in keeping with the restaurant's motto, "Freshness You Trust." With her expert guidance, you'll be sure to achieve sushi satisfaction.
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