If anything indicates the strength of New York City’s Japanese restaurants, it is the growing number of authentic establishments that seem like they could be sitting just as happily in Ginza as they do in midtown Manhattan.
Tempura Matsui is such a place, as it skillfully demonstrates why tempura is a celebrated Japanese cuisine type in its own right. Of course, the prized seats are at the counter, especially if you want to see this master at work.
The chef uses a mix of sesame and cottonseed oils; and the gently bubbling pot is refreshed and replenished regularly. Equally important, the batter is used sparingly so that the ingredients taste truly of themselves. You’ll start with a parade of seasonal dishes including tofu with uni, before having some beautifully arranged sashimi. It is then time for the main event, which begins in the traditional way with crispy shrimp legs. The ingredients and fish turned out of this kitchen usually vary according to the seasons, but could include the likes of wonderfully tender squid, succulent Hokkaido scallop, plump matsutake, as well as subtly sweet onion. And be sure to end with tencha, with its mellow, delicious and deeply flavorful broth.