Jean-Georges takes a victory lap on his blog today, allowing himself a rare bit of celebration over Frank Bruni’s three-star review of Matsugen in the Times. “More importantly,” the chef adds tactfully, “we’ve been getting rave reviews from our customers.” Since so many of those are well-heeled Japanese nationals, as Vongo notes, it’s an especially emphatic endorsement. With the powerful yen the way it is, and New York a kind of pied-à-terre for jet-setting Japanese, Matsugen probably wouldn’t be possible without those customers. Add in the Tribeca trustafarians who will patronize the place, and it looks like a success. But it was a gamble: Aside from his love of the buckwheat noodles, the thing that should make Vongerichten happiest about the Bruni review is the Times’ critic’s grasp of just how courageous it was to bring such an alien and austere type of food to such a distant downtown space.
Matsugen, Going Strong [Jean-Georges Vongerichten]