Monday, January 16, 2017

Tempura Matsui - best tempura experience so far

Tempura Matsui is a probably the only fancy tempura restaurant that I know in NYC (one michelin star). It opened in late 2015 and received good review from NY Times. Luckily for us, they offered an offer in Gilt City which I believed is a very good deal.

We got the Matsui dinner which cost $200 per person (original price). The deal costed us $199 for 2 person.

Having gone to Tempura Kondo in Tokyo, I was surprised to be greeted by young chefs. I later learned that the head chef has passed away.

First up is the seasonal starter - fluke with vegetables, corn and flava bean.

Next is the sashimi assortment of the day- fatty tuna on shiso leaves, amberjack and (??).

What's interesting about the setup is that you can be creative with your food. Top left, you can see that there are two kinds of salt- miso salt and german rock salt. Top right is a lemon squeezer where you can add lemon to your tempura. 

The large bowl at the bottom left is the tempura dipping sauce where you can dunk grated daikon (right bowl) on it to give the dipping sauce more body. For each meal, the chef will provide recommendation on how you should season the tempura. For example, pair one of the salt with/without lemon, or to just use the dipping sauce. I had fun trying other kinds of combination to each dish.

The two salts.

The german rock salt comes from the big rock behind the counter.

So, what do you get in this course? Obviously, you will get the prawn and prawn heads.

Don't remember what these are..

Scallops. You can see that the chef cooked it right as it's still rare inside.
Lotus root.

Eggplants wrapped in eel.


Corn fritters.

White fish.

I asked the chef what they do with all of the leftover crumbs. I believed he said that it's either used in some dishes or they eat it with staffs/family.

The next three dishes are add-ons (outside the dinner course). Shiitake mushroom.


Uni. This could have been presented better though.

As a cleanser is the somen noodle with fresh vegetables.

Steamed egg custard & foie gras topped with crab sauce. This is very good. It's soft and flavorful.
For the rice course, you can opt for either ten-don or ten-cha.

Below is ten-cha, tempura rice bowl topped with tea.

Below is ten-don, rice with tempura on top.

Lastly is the refreshment. If I recall correctly, it's yuzu ice cream with matcha.

So what's the final verdict? Compared with the two tempura places that I tried before in Japan (Tempura Kondo- two michelin star and Tempura tsunahachi), I'll rate this the highest. First, it's fun to be explore different flavor profile by combining the tempura with different seasoning. Second, non-tempura courses (e.g., egg custard and sashimi) are better options than what was offered in Tempura Kondo. You can read more about my experience with Tempura Kondo in here. 
The only downside is that this tempura course (original price) is more expensive than Tempura Kondo. Will probably have to wait for deal to eat at here again.