Matsugen was formerly ""66"" restaurant, another Jean-Georges attempt at upscale Asian cuisine. I ate here for restaurant week dinner and it was nearly empty - I guess everyone else already knew what I was about to find out. Let me preface this with I've been to Japan and am very familiar with its cuisine, my date is Japanese and lived in Tokyo for 20 years.
I do admit that some of the items were rather good such as the soft tofu appetizer, tempura and the miso cod - but no one goes here for this, its about the soba right? (more about that later) The tuna sushi and seaweed salad were ok, but nothing special. The green tea pudding dessert was also OK but it had more of a liquid consistency closer to a thick soup.
On the other hand the edamame was covered in too much pepper which made it unusual and nearly too spicy to enjoy. The attractive teapot holding the green tea hid a tea bag of questionable quality which produced green colored water with no flavor. At first I thought it had not been steeped long enough, but it did not improve with time. The worst green tea I have ever been served.
My primary issue with the food was with the soba, which is supposed to be the specialty and the main reason for going here. The hot soba with duck was just fair, much better can be had many other places. The cold soba tasted raw enough in the middle that we both thought they made a mistake in preparing it. After sending it back for another bowl which was the same, we pushed it aside and left it uneaten. We asked the waiter, when we could find him later, about this and he said many people like this style. After explaining that we are familiar with soba and Japanese cuisine he conceded that this was more of a Korean style preparation. If I wanted Korean style noodles I would have gone to K-town and not searched out a Japanese Soba restaurant.
Basically, Matsugen failed to deliver soba to justify its claim as an upscale soba specialty restaurant or warrant its prices, and overall its just not that great of a Japanese restaurant. I cannot think of a reason to recommend Matsugen considering the better alternatives at more reasonable prices.
Also, if you dined at ""66"" the décor is EXACTLY the same down to the tables, chairs and fish tank, the only thing that changed is the banners above the sushi bar and the menu.
Pros: Close to the Franklin Street Subway
Cons: Bad Soba - Overpriced, inauthentic food