Address: 241 Church Street, New York
I resisted going to Matsugen when it opened last year. Yes, I heard that the soba at Matsugen is made by the Matsushita brothers, apparently famous soba masters from Japan. I didn't want to spend a fortune for soba and other food there, when I can get perfectly good soba from restaurants like Sobaya and Sobakoh. But since I saw that Matsugen is participating in NYC restaurant week, I thought I might as well go check it out and take advantage of the restaurant week menu.
We ordered the restaurant week specials, and it came with wasabi nuts, soft tofu miso soup, kampachi sashimi with spicy ponzu, sushi, crispy shrimp and a choice of seiro soba noodles with hot duck broth or hot mushroom soba. I had the duck soba, which was cold soba with a bowl of hot duck broth on the side for dipping. I thought the soba and the duck broth were nice, but nothing extraordinary. We also ordered additional tempura, which turned out to be a mistake. Usually, tempura is the bread and butter of a soba restaurant, but Matsugen's tempura reminded me of those we get from the supermarket/delis. The batter was thick and heavy, very disappointing. Despite being a high end soba restaurant, not all the dishes at Matsugen are expensive. But the restaurant definitely offers more expensive options if you decide to splurge: sea urchin soba that for $32 and giant prawn tempura soba for $26.
I thought it would have been more appealing if the Matsushita brothers were to open their first New York City soba restaurant in a location that has more warmth to it. The Matsugen interior is just too icy cold for the kind of food they are serving, as though there is a disconnect between the food and the restaurant ambience. Also, when Matsugen markets itself as the high end soba restaurant, people expect first class soba, and all other dishes to be excellent. The soba at Matsugen was good quality soba, but not great. I think I am perfectly happy eating at Sobakoh or Sobaya.
Sea Urchin with Yuzu Jelly - reminded me of the sea urchin with mousseline at L'atelier de Joel Robuchon. Gan and I ordered this while waiting for our table at the bar.