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Good News/ Bad News Matsugen

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Jean-Georges' newest project Matsugen, a soba house in the old 66 space, opened to little fanfare a week and a half ago. As was JGV's want, the opening attracted only a modicum of press coverage. But of course the good people of Yelp, eGullet and Chowhound still caught wind of the arrival. The consensus: it's damn good and incredibly overpriced. But lets get to the specifics and delve into the good news and the bad news:

1) The Very Good News: Though perhaps biased because she knows the chef, the author of Desperate Chef's Wives chimes in with a rave: "I will tell you my favorite part of the meal and things I think you should order (should you like my advice): deep fried shrimp cake & shitake mushroom (18.00), black cod with miso (22.00) (AMAZING AND SO WORTH THE PRICE!), Kizami-Kitsume fried tofu hot soba with scallion (14.00), and of course the sushi. For dessert: parfait, something with tomato (I forgot the name) and the grapefruit (it's so much fun!). Oh, and start with the Japanese pickles (5.00), they were so tasty/crunchy I could have eaten them by the bucket...I loved it." [Desperate Chefs' Wives]

2) The Bad News: The bad news comes in the form of a Yelp review, which takes more issue with the pricing than with the food itself: "If you felt ripped off at Ippudo, don't bother with Matsugen. The $40 soba noodles will definitely lead to indigestion for you. I know this is JGV, but I had a hard time putting down the bowl of noodles without thanking my lucky stars that I wasn't picking this up. It's quite good, but it's not THAT good...People had mixed feelings about 66 before, and compared to what's here now, I kind of miss it." [Yelp]

3) The Good News: So far only one eGulleter has given Matsugen the test run, and he's a major fan: "Homemade Tofu - very fresh. They make it once an hour, I was told...Fluke sashimi cured in Nori - very interesting dish. Sashimi was almost a little too dry. With a little bit of nori salad. extrememly good. Steamed Eel - Revelatory. Subtle, delicate yet very very tasty...Overall, the quality of ingredients was very high...Quality reminds me of the likes of Sugiyama in their hayday." [eG]

4) The Not So Great News: The following commenter had a good enough time but wouldn't want to spend his own money on it again: "I enjoyed the prawn tempura. ($22) I had the duck soba. ($14) The food was fine...the parfait was not particularly good. I didn't think the place was a value. I'd rather eat at Momofuku, which I think is a better value. I'd rather eat at Nobu when I want a sophisticated Japanese meal. I would eat here again on someone else's expense account, I would not want them to pay for it out of pocket." [Eater Comments]


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