Recession Buster Vol. 1: Matsugen

by Amanda McDougall
December 2008

N.Y. Noodle and Chutoro Price Comparison

An incomprehensive sample of noodle and chutoro prices at a few casual and high end (e.g. Kuruma Zushi) spots in Manhattan.

Noodles

Soba-Ya
$8 to $16.50

Momofuku Noodle Bar
$10 to $17

Matsugen
$12 to $36

Chutoro

Matsugen
$8 for two pieces

15 East
$9 per piece

Kuruma Zushi
$15 per piece

Where?
Matsugen
241 Church Street
New York, NY 10013
212-925-0202

What?
It’s not that common to see sushi mentioned as a deal for the budget-minded. But at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Matsugen in New York—an establishment that’s usually in the ‘expensive’ category—there are some surprisingly affordable dishes, including succulent tuna.

Chutoro, the less fatty portion of the tuna belly, is listed on the Matsugen sushi menu as market price (NB: the price fluctuates), but was sold last week for $8 for two pieces of sashimi—a remarkably low price for a prized piece of fish that usually goes for two times that price in fine dining sushi restaurants. It’s one of those special finds, and an example of how a restaurant can pass on a great deal to their customers and win some loyalty in a tough market.

But that chutoro isn’t the only deal to be had at Matsugen . The restaurant’s handmade buckwheat noodles, soba, are at set prices. Their cold and hot soba dishes start at a reasonable—well, reasonable by New York standards—$12 and several more are on offer for $14. The beauty of the soba choices is the price range from under $15 to a more extravagant $36, giving diners who are cutting back on expenses an option to enjoy artisanal, high-caliber food in a sleek, upscale setting by one of the county’s top chefs.