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Jul 5, 2011 01:12 PM

Why did Matsugen close?

Heard good things about this place Matsugen. Anyone know why it closed? Any other awesome Udon in the city?

241 Church Street, New York, NY 10013

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  1. sorry to sound like a smartass, but i guess part of the reason is exactly that not many people cared that they did soba (buckwheat noodle, greyish in color) rather than udon (wheat-flour noodle, whitish color), or just any other kind of noodle. and that location isn't easy, i guess.

    somehow, the ramen craze has caught on, but soba hasn't quite got there yet. for good soba place, soba goh is not bad, and soba totto often has interesting specials. for udon, actually i don't know ....

    1. We loved the place. Soba was awesome, the sushi was better than most places. But it was hardly ever crowded. Ever since Honmura An closed, the wife and I had been looking for a replacement. Found something close with Matsugen, but we were always worried they wouldn't make it because there were never any crowds. You could get a reservation every Friday evening at 8. So we resolved to go as often as possible to support it but we failed. So sad.

      1. I don't think it was because soba didn't catch on - there are popular soba joints here in town, maybe not as many as ramen but we do have a few that survive and do decent business. I think it's because many felt the price:value ratio wasn't terribly good, and just didn't return.

        1. i blame the poor location and the size of the space. its in tribeca but more east than the locanda verde's or nobu's in the area.

          the place was massive...which i liked...but the hardcore japanese food connoisseurs of the city couldnt fill this place up enough to make it profitable.

          i thought their sushi bar was total quality. it was my backup whenever ushiwakamaru was full.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sam1

            yeah, the location is not good and the size of space makes it pricey to run...and it suffered a location "curse" (i.e. JG's "66" failed there, as did something else before that i think)...

            and while the soba was traditional and very good, the restaurant didn't really have an identity: in additional to traditional soba they served some awful fusiony appetizers and some decent but non-traditional Japanese food...and while i believe the cooks were mostly Japanese, a lot of the staff were American w/ little knowledge of Japanese if one wanted traditional Japanese cuisine and experience, it didn't work...on the other hand, it wasn't a pleasant enough atmosphere (a bit cold and uncomfortable) to justify going there for any other reason.

            i used to go there for the inaka soba sometimes, but the vibe of the place was never good...the inaka soba at Soba Koh is superior anyway...and Soba Totto's bar is much more despite some solid soba dinners there, i won't miss it...

            Soba Totto
            211 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

          2. It might sound condescending, but I suspect that the subtleties of soba are lost on most diners. For $15+, people probably expect more than an austere plate of noodles and a dipping sauce (plus a teapot of soba-yu at the end).

            "the inaka soba at Soba Koh is superior anyway"

            I adore Soba Koh and think it's probably the best soba restaurant in Manhattan right now, but I must disagree. All three iterations of soba at Matsugen were significantly tastier than any of Soba Koh's offerings.

            To answer the original question, see:

            2 Replies
            1. re: kayu

              hi kayu...i've been in and out of NYC the last couple years while traveling, and just recently moved back my comparisons of the two places on a regular basis might be unreliable...but the inaka soba i had at Soba Koh a couple weeks ago was superb, prob the best i've had outside of Japan...

              1. re: kayu

                I saw that explanation from Jean-Georges' flack and read it as face-saving spin. If the place had been making tons of money, I suspect they would have found a way.