279 Baldwin Avenue (At Ellsworth Street)
San Mateo, CA 94401
Mutsu is a long-standing family run Japanese restaurant about 2 blocks from the CalTrain station that has been here for a while and probably hasn’t changed much. We’ve been to most of the Japanese restaurants in this area, except for this one, so it was time to expand our horizons. San Mateo is home to a large Japanese community, so there are Japanese restaurants on practically every block.
Summary – Mutsu serves up high quality Japanese in an old school location.
Insider Tip – Services is slow, so don’t come in a rush.
Cuisine – Japanese
Location – Downtown San Mateo
Decor, Vibe – Mutsu is a small restaurant with about 14 simple tables and chairs that have probably been here for decades. Large paintings of winter scenes line the walls. The place was pretty filled considering it was a Saturday night.
Mutsu Menu includes a couple appetizers, a sushi menu, typical entrées, and some combination dishes.
Signature Dishes – Sushi
Complimentary seaweed, yam, Lotus appetizer
Octopus sunomono ($6.95) was small but had some well cooked and very fresh octopus, cucumber, all covered by light vinegar dressing.
Unajuu ($17.95) barbecued eel over Rice came in a beautiful box. The one on it was topped with a fairly heavy molasses-like sauce, while the eel itself proved to be a large portion of high quality unagi.
Deluxe Chirashi Sushi Set ($18.95) took the longest to come but came with 11 different items. Everything looked great and was fresh. Yellowtail was huge, draping over the Rice. Above average fish quality.
Sukiyaki ($13.95) thinly sliced beef, tofu, and vegetable cooked in a special broth was an excellent dish with slightly rare meat coating the top of the Clay pot. A sweet broth which also included udon noodles, young noodles, and Napa cabbage.
Children’s dinner with teriyaki chicken and tempura, Rice, ice cream ($9.50) had some interesting chicken teriyaki that possessed a heavy Ginger flavored, but the shrimp and vegetable tempura more than made up for this.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Service – Mutsu had horrible service because the owner was out and only one person service entire restaurant. It took 45 min. to get our food, but we were warned ahead of time. The owner finally showed up when our meal was over.
We hope this is a special case, and expect their regular service to be okay.
Value – Prices are in line with other Japanese restaurants nearby.
Verdict – Mutsu serves up solid Japanese food in an old school environment, perfect for those who focus more on food quality. Be prepared for possibly poor service.