|Tempura Matsui's shrimp and shiso leaf tempura with zarusoba.|
|Miniature stone garden and pond, Tempura Matsui|
|Gifu Prefecture ceramic artist Hideki Hayashi's Mino-style plate.|
Sadly, after opening the New York branch of his restaurant, tempura master Masao Matsui, who had been suffering from cancer, passed away in February. The restaurant has forged ahead, though, and is now celebrating its one-year anniversary, headed by Chefs Shin Kato and Kiyoshi Chikano.
Tempura Matsui is not your weekly neighborhood hang-out, exactly--newly unveiled set menus range from $140 to $230. But the level of technique is very high, and diners can sit at the counter to watch Chefs Kato and Chikano (above in video) deftly tempura fry everything from scallops wrapped in nori to shrimp-stuffed shiitake, lobster and okra, using the blunt end of long wooden chopsticks.
|The lobster tail extravaganza.|
If you really want to gild the lily this summer, the $230 menu includes Chef Chikano's lobster tail tempura with baby corn and seasonal vegetable tempura, as well as steamed lobster claws and a vinegar-soy dipping sauce. Or, you can add this course as a market-priced supplement to one of other set menus.
Wherever you are, I hope you stay cool this month and can find zarusoba and shrimp tempura someplace near you!