Matsugen’s Mill Is Constantly Grinding

matusugen mill

The mill grinds slowly, but rarely stops.Photo: Melissa Hom

Jean-Georges Vongerichtens latest offering, Matsugen, has an extensive menu and a topflight sushi bar, but the restaurant will likely rise or fall based on how the public responds to its primary focus: soba (buckwheat) noodles. In Japan, soba sellers get freshly-ground flour from a nearby mill. In an expensive attempt to replicate that flavor, Matusgen has a modern, mechanized version of the ancient technology. With the electric Mitsuka mill, two heavy wheels of granite are fed two ounces of Japanese buckwheat kernels every few minutes. The machine which cost nearly $10,000 slowly grinds the sobako flour to varying textures. After the flour drops through the millstones, a robotic arm brushes it into a bin below. It basically runs all day, says sous-chef Kyle Herman. We constantly need fresh noodles, so we constantly run the mill. Those wheels are constantly turning.

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