After a ten month hiatus from posting on my blog I ran into my friends Michael and Linda, The Wandering Epicures, and got to talking about the meals we’ve had since our last meeting. We spoke mostly of restaurants in Japan and California, but it was the comparison of our recent meals at newly opened Tempura Matsui that led me to finally dust off my blogging machine and get this post up.
Since returning from our winter trip to Japan, Rocky has been on the lookout for a good place to get her tempura fix. So when we found out about Chef Masao Matsui’s new spot on East 39th we put our dining shoes on and headed uptown.
As there is only the one menu option for dinner, all we had to do was order a bottle of sake to get the party started.
Sakizuke: Junsai with Sea Urchin. The first serving was a small bowl of uni, yam, lotus root, wasabi, water lily buds, and vinegar.
Homemade Sesame Tofu topped with Wasabi and Dashi. The soy-wasabi dashi was great.
Simmered Octopus Sakura-ni.
Simmered Eggplant Hisui-ni. Topped with bonito flakes.
Chawan-mushi with Red Rice, Tai fish and Uni Ankake. Seemingly endless layers of surprises for such a small dish. And a generous amount of urchin.
Assorted Sashimi with Tuna, Tai and Sake-Steeped Abalone. A nice sashimi plate I suppose for a tempura restaurant. The tai was beautifully delicate, the tuna beautifully fatty, and the abalone nice and tender with a sauce from its liver.
Condiments: tempura sauce, grated daikon radish, salt, and lemon. Though the tempura was wonderful on its own and mostly didn’t need any dressing.
Shrimp. First bites of the tempura portion. Two superbly light and subtly savory shrimp heads.
Shrimp. A perfectly sweet shrimp.
Shrimp. And another one.
Asparagus. Clean, unobscured flavor.
Scallop. Wrapped in seaweed. An outstanding serving. The tenderness and sweetness of the scallop were balanced dead on with the savory and crisp seaweed and batter.
Cherry Tomato. Served far too hot for me, I had to let it cool awhile. Super juicy.
King Crab. Damn delicious. Like over the top amazing. My favorite of the night.
Maitake. Straight forward fried mushroom. Very nice.
Japanese Whitefish. An outstanding show of Matsui’s skill. Very nice fish enhanced by the delicate batter.
From here we were told the planned tempura menu was finished and we were given the option to add more pieces. I elected to have one more of their choice.
Uni. Sea urchin wrapped in tofu skin. Very tasty, intense uni flavor.
Hamo with Cucumber and Plum Sauce. A decent enough plate of conger eel.
Ten-don. Shrimp tempura over rice. My second favorite of the night. An excellent handful of shrimp over a fantastic bowl of rice accented by the salty and sweet tentsuyu sauce.
Akadashi Miso Soup. Tasty enough soup. Though Rocky couldn’t finish hers because of the fairly obscene amount of sand in the bowl.
Homemade Pickles. The small dish of very nice pickles was a great condiment.
Peach Compote. Poached peaches in simple syrup. As simple as that. As much as I love the light, fresh Japanese style desserts..I was thankful there is Shake Shack a block up to fulfill
Rocky’s dessert demands our appetite for sweets.
A very serious Chef Masao Matsui.
Our bottle of Kubota Manju.
Overall a very tasty meal. High quality products treated impeccably. Though I would have preferred the focus to be more on tempura. Especially given the name and all the press declaring it New York’s first real tempura restaurant. I look forward to seeing how Tempura Matsui evolves.
Date of visit: July 27, 2015
Tempura Matsui. 222 East 39th St, NYC 212 986 8885 www.tempuramatsui.com