Matsu has been open since 1973. It was a tempura-only restaurant for only three years and it is now a kaiseki restaurant.
The book by Matt Goulding says that the reason why the price is so low is that the chef is known to drive a hard bargain with his vendors. I think this is quite unusual for a top-level restaurant, where chefs usually will pay a high price, if necessary, to sustain a relationship with their suppliers. The result? A 20,000円 meal with generous amounts of male and female crab, fugu shirako, ise lobster, otoro, and konoko sea cucumber ovaries. The same ingredients would cost more than double at some other restaurants.
The restaurant is family-run and the serving staff, mother okasan and daughter Mariko, were welcoming and happy to speak English. The kitchen looks old, but in a good way. Matsu is very charming, but do not be fooled. The food is extremely good. Toshio Matsuno trained at Alain Ducasse and Kitcho, as well as under his father Shunichi.
Affordable price, tasteful presentation, extremely delicious food, luxurious ingredients, and sincere hospitality, a meal to remember. And the tempura? Some of the best I have had anywhere, made by Hirofumi Oyagi, a chef with more than 40 years of tempura experience.
I think Matsu is a great example that Tabelog reviews cannot always be trusted. All it takes is a couple of people that thought the meal was too long and they missed their Shinkansen giving you bad reviews, and you lose your “silver” Tabelog award. I hope you will make up your own mind. What Matsu offers is genuine and exciting. I have extreme respect for this restaurant. It is not an easy task to keep prices down and deliver a feast of this quality.
Reservations: Ask your concierge to find out how long in advance they will take the reservations. Mine was taken 2 months in advance. Cash payment only.
The only true voyage of discovery would be not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.
Matsukawa (revisited), Learning Japanese, Advanced Japanese Manners, Hakone, home cooking.
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