Tempura Matsui has only been opened for two years, but in that short time has developed such an amazing reputation in the Manhattan food scene. Being named a Michelin starred restaurant two years in a row, the Murray Hill location is one of the few in Manhattan that specializes in Tempura cuisine. Special is the name of the game in this case, as myself and a friend dined there over the weekend, and truly blown away by quite possibly one of the best meals we have ever had. No joke.
In a bitter cold Saturday night here in New York City, Tempura Matsui gives you the feeling of being whisked away from the bitterness of Manhattan and right into the heart of Japan with its elegant and mesmerizing set up that reads as clean, beautiful and calming all at the same time. Even the bathroom was super impressive, with a gorgeous bidet right inside. It was very apparent that on top of the amazing cuisine we were going to have, that they really wanted you to experience the culture as well with the design and execution of the location.
The master of Tempura Matsui is chef Kiyoshi Chikano, who has had a love affair with Tempura for over thirty years. After mastering the art of it in his home country of Japan, he decided to take a leap of faith once he found out that Chef Masao Matsui was opening a Tempura location here. Chef Chikano summarizes the new challenge he has set for himself and Tempura Matsui: “I want to build a bridge between the two countries—the United States and Japan—through my food and my tempuras.”
Boy are we glad that Chef Chikano decided to come here, With was done with such an amazing amount of technical skill and focus that it was hard to take our eyes off of what we are calling a “wonderful experience”.
We opted to try their Kaiseki courses, which came with a variety of fresh appetizers, assortment of Tempura dishes, noodles and a refreshing dessert to end the meal. Everything was a highlight, no joke. The tempura options ranged in the best of the best when it came to vegetables and seafood. I found out from one of the lovely staff members that with the exception of the lobster (sourced from Maine), that everything else they use is sourced directly from Japan. This to me elevates my thought process even further about the location, in that they value sourcing from their country in order to provide the best quality of food they are preparing.
The tempura on each dish was light without being greasy or leaving you feeling too stuffed, which is very important. Our favorites that we enjoyed were the Scallop, Cauliflower, Prawn Heads, Eggplant and Burdock Root as they tasted so phenomenal on its own, but when you add some lemon juice, rock salt or other amenities with it, heightens the flavor of the Tempura even further. I was so entranced by each dish that I had that I found myself in the most amazing Tempura coma ever. And I didn’t want to leave it.
Outside of the Tempura dishes, we were really impressed by the Soba Noodles they provided, in a broth that quite frankly I could’ve swam in it was that good. Noodles and me are best friends regardless, and this was no exception. Beautifully done and a great way to finish this incredible meal.
If there is one word I could describe when talking about Tempura Matsui, it is special. Special in so many ways as the food in Manhattan tends to be delicious but the same over and over again, season after season. When you have something so specific as Tempura and being the kings of the game in a city like Manhattan, it is reason for taking the trip to Murray Hill and experiencing just how incredible this place is. For more information, check out their official site.