“You’ve got a spy!” Vongerichten quips to us, peering over
our shoulder as we dug into a delightfully hot, smoky bowl of seiro soba with duck and scallions.
“I’ve been trying to convince [the Matsushitas] for seven years,” he says as he
chats up our table, noting that everything finally came together when he showed
them the former 66 space.
Three Mastushita brothers are onboard—two in the kitchen,
one in the front of the house (they’ve also brought along seven chefs from
Soba is the centerpiece at Matsugen, served hot or cold
depending on which dish you go for, such as goma-dare
(sesame sauce), yamakake (with grated
yams) or the inadvertently named bukkake
(a medley of scallion, bonito, yam, sesame, okura and nori, among others). The
noodles themselves, available in three textures from delicate to coarse, are made in-house until 1 a.m. the day of service. (“They’re still making
them by the time we close at night,” one of the servers marveled to us.)
For non-soba lovers at the table, there’s sushi, sashimi, kamameshi
rice pots, tempura and appetizers like the delicate sea urchin with yuzu jelly,
which comes dotted with lavender shiso flowers placed there with micro-precision
using tweezers (or so we’re told). Grilled selections, from Wagyu rib eye to pork
belly served atop a scalding-hot “
The new digs echo 66’s sharp, minimalist aesthetic, with black
Eames chairs and banquettes, metal mesh partitions, and Bertoia high chairs
flanking the runway-length communal table. A crisp, precise backdrop for
Matsugen’s crisp, precise flavors.
Japanese—hot and cold soba, tempura, kamameshi, sushi, sashimi, rolls, and
cocktails (i.e. Yuzu Drop Martini ), over a dozen sakes, Japanese beer (including
limited quantities of Hitachino Nest), and scotches.
Service: Vintage Jean-Georges—unobtrusively attentive and carefully studied, with a fluent command of menu minutiae (down to the cheesecloth used to distill the tomato juice used in a dessert of crystal tomato and coconut broth).
Vibe: Sleek and
unfussy, with Modernist touches (Eames and Bertoia chairs, Saarinen tables) and
a loft-like expansiveness
241 Church St.
Tue.-Fri. 5:30 p.m.-12 a.m..
Sat.-Sun. 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
Photo by Jori Klein