Shrimp Tempura Gets the Royal Treatment



You're trying out a new Japanese restaurant for dinner and can't wait to devour the tempura special you just ordered as an appetizer. Finally, your tempura pieces have arrived and your chopsticks and stomach are ready to devour. As you slowly pick up the first victim, you're prepared to revel in the crunchy climax of the first bite you've been daydreaming about all afternoon. Where's the crunch?? The batter has completely fallen off the overcooked shrimp and this very underwhelming first bite has killed the mood. You leave the restaurant unsatisfied and disappointed. Don't worry - the recently opened Tempura Matsui has come to the rescue. Although its omakase menu does come with a hefty $200 price tag, as Jessie J would say - "it's not about the money money money". The crunch on these tempura pieces definitely will not disappoint:

Appetizers (Zensai)

A Selection of Dishes

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The tasting menu begins with a variety of seasonal appetizers ranging from homemade sesame tofu to simmered octopus and mushroom dishes. Our favorite, hands down, is the chawanmushi, made up of seemingly endless layers of surprises for such a small dish. The perfect combination of red rice, tai fish, egg custard, yuzu, and generous amounts of hokkaido uni bring together a wide variety of unexpected textures and flavor pairings, making this depth-filled appetizer one of our favorite egg custards, period.


Shrimp (with Fried Shrimp Heads), Seasonal Fish and Vegetables

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Now for the main event - a parade of tempura created with three essential elements: fresh ingredients, the oil and batter pairing, and sauces.

The focus is on making the fried coating as thin as possible, just enough to coat the freshest seasonal ingredients without weighing them down through a process called the "Matsui Way". Beginning with shrimp, followed by seasonal vegetables, and ending with fish, every piece of this well-rounded tasting is fried to order just moments before being served. What we found interesting was the blend of oils used: sesame, vegetable, and cotton oils. Precise heat paired with a signature silky batter is key to creating an almost sheer whisper-weight wrapper around each tempura piece.

The third element that takes this typically casual dining dish to sophistication are the sauces. Four options are presented: two types of salt, lemon juice, and dashi with perfectly shaved Daikon radish. As your server places the freshly-fried tempura in front of you, he will make suggestions on which sauces to pair each piece since salt is entirely absent during the production process. Company formation Ultimately, it's up to the guest to adjust seasonings to their person preference. Our favorite pairings are seafood tempura with lemon juice and vegetables with salt and dashi sauce. All in all, these tempura pieces taste perfect on their own so sauces simply enhance their inherent flavor.

After Tempura

A Selection of Fish, Rice, and Soup

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After savoring around eight different types of tempura, your meal proceeds onto non-tempura centered dishes including hamo, a white-meat fish from the eel family, and our favorite, the "Ten-Don". Served in a traditional Asian bowl, this shrimp tempura over rice dish is our favorite amongst all the dishes served throughout the entire meal. Beware - the combination of chewy rice, crispy shrimp pieces, sweet tentsuyu sauce, and crunchy Japanese-style pickles will take your taste buds to tempura paradise.


Dessert Peach Compote

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After rounds of appetizers, tempura, and rice dishes, there's no better way to end your meal than on a refreshing note. The homemade Peach Compote perfectly satisfies your sweet tooth without overdoing your daily dose of sugar while its simplicity keeps with the light and fresh nature of the entire meal. If you're a fan of uncomplicated fruit-based desserts, this definitely fits the bill.

Tempura Matsui 222 E 39th St New York, NY 10016