November 3, 2003 | Ask Gael
Where would Magellan be heading about now?

        Boldfaced names turn up in the oddest places—but then, they’re invited. Now let’s see what fearless explorers among us paying civilians can find the way to the vast, stylish cavern that is Matsuri on faraway Ninth Avenue. Ex–Caravelle chef Tadashi Ono’s elegant touch is instantly evident in the smart yuzu edge of a toss starring shrimp, octopus, and squid, and in lush ribbons of tuna piled atop a mountain of potato sticks. Even the ubiquitous edamame stand out, served warm with Japanese sea salt, and a small sea eel slithers in greaseless tempura, sporting a pepper accessory like a chic little handbag. The four of us require encores of Kobe beef plus deep-fried tofu and eggplant in a soy-ginger broth, luscious yellowtail sashimi, and a couple of hand rolls before moving on to sake black cod, a crusty rice ball, and a bowl of fragrant udon (hot) with vegetables and a dashi dipping sauce. Definitely worth the hunt for that red door.

369 West 16th Street 212 243 6400