Ultimately light-battered various seasonal ingredients that change fixed image
Ultimately light-battered variou...

Ultimately light-battered variou...

Ultimately light-battered variou...

By Aya Ota

“I’ve never had tempura like this!” – The impressed gourmet New Yorkers rave about “Tempura Matsui”. In New York where you can have all kinds of authentic foods from all over the world, Japanese food is getting more and more specialized. However, as curious as it sounds, there had not been any tempura specialty restaurants. Not only are they the pioneers, you can also say that they changed the stereotype image of tempura. Seasonal fresh ingredients from mountains to the sea are fried and coated in an extremely light batter. Matsui’s tempura doesn’t fit the image of deep fried food. It is more like “trapped in seasonal fresh taste” with skillfully combined ingredients, batter, and oil, to create a harmony. The tempura made and served from across their counter in an efficient and flawless manner was delicate and light. You see no residual oil stain left on the paper under the tempura. It even looks artistic. It is understandable why they have achieved the legendary success of winning the “New York Times Two Stars” rank and the “Michelin One Star” shortly after the opening in July of 2015.

“Tempura Matsui” opened as the fifth store by “America Ootoya Group”. This group opened their first North American store in April of 2012 in the Chelsea District of New York. Subsequently, they opened the second one in August of 2013 in Times Square, and the third one in March of 2015 in Greenwich Village, which is pretty remarkable. Additionally, in 2014, they obtained the right to operate “Robataya NY“, which is a beginning of a new venture for them. The decision to open “Tempura Matsui” came from an incidental reencountering between the late former Chairman, Hisami Mitsumori and the loved and respected late chef, Masao Matsui, who is the legendary chef, and was the chief tempura chef of the famous long-established Japanese restaurant called “Nadaman”. After retiring from a 47-year career, he decided to challenge New York with tempura after meeting Mr. Mitsumori again, and got motivated.

“It is delightful that I can feel how impressed the customers are right there in front of me! I’d like to spread the greatness of tempura more and more,” says the Head Chef, Kiyoshi Chikano. He learned closely under the late Masao Matsui, who suddenly passed away after achieving the goal of opening this New York restaurant. He came to succeed the late Matsui only in May of this year. He insists on the traditional Japanese style without making adjustments with ingredients or the way of cooking to suit the taste of American customers. He prepares the ingredients with great care before coating them with the batter and putting them in the oil. Each ingredient requires slightly different proper timing. He says, “It is impossible to explain in words. You need to be able to feel it by experiencing it repeatedly.” No wonder some say that tempura making is harder than sushi making.

To commemorate the first anniversary, the menu has been renewed. Only one omakase course was offered before, but now the following three different courses are served: “Irodori Course with 6 items that include Tenju” ($140), “Kaiseki Course with 7 items that include your choice of Tasaki - delicately seared sashimi with ponzu dipping sauce - or Ten-Soba” ($180), and “Chef’s Special Kaiseki Course with seven premium items that include sashimi and lobster tempura” ($230). Each course is unique, and regardless of the price difference, all are very satisfying.

“The numbers of both first-time customers and repeaters are increasing,” says Tomonori Takada, the President of America Ootoya Group. Tempura and other dishes can be added to your order from the a-la-carte menu. Tempura is a simple combination of ingredients, batter, and oil, and therefore it is so important to care for the right ingredients. The core ingredients are seafood, which is sent directly by air from the contracted Tsukiji market vendors in Tokyo. The seafood ingredients are so luxurious, and even fresher than sashimi. For the Chef’s Special Kaiseki Course ($230), you have a choice of Tendon, Tencha or Ten-Soba, and the soba is made in a surprisingly particular way in-house using a stone grinder.

As the eating space, there is a private VIP room and a bar in addition to the counter and the tables. The artistic tempura dishes in a sophisticated Japanese style space are presented for your excitement and ultimate surprising pleasure!







Tempura Matsui
222 E 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-986-8885

Open 7 Days: 5:00pm - 10:30pm