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Tempura Matsui's Chef Masao Matsui Dead at 65

The chef introduced New York to the high-end tempura tasting menu.

Nick Solares

Masao Matsui, a revered Japanese chef whose specialized in tempura frying, died on February 7. He was 65. Pete Wells shares the news on his Facebook page. Matsui came out of retirement to open Tempura Matsui, the $200-per-head temple to fried food in Midtown East. In his two-star review, Wells noted: "Experiencing tempura as a serious craft is a thrill, but Mr. Matsui’s style ensures that almost all the pleasure comes from whatever is being cooked inside that diaphanously thin batter." Matsui spent more than 45 years of his life cooking tempura.

Tempura Matsui by Nick Solares

Shortly after Tempura Matsui opened, the chef returned to Japan and his second in command, Shin Kato, took over the kitchen. Matsui came back to New York toward the end of the year, but he didn't stay for very long. The chef had cancer. He traveled back to Japan, where he spent the last months of his life.

In his remembrance of the chef, Wells remarks: "[W]hen Mr. Matsui was at his station I knew I was in the presence of a chef whose patient dedication was matched by his warm spirit."