Welcome to SDM‘s Guide to Food + Drink, a series created to help you decide on where to eat in San Diego—curated by the team at San Diego Magazine.
This week: cabbage at Matsu.
No one’s ever accused cabbage of hoarding sexiness for itself. No one runs out of truffle and says, “no worries I got cabbage.” This cabbage dish at Matsu changes all that. Phenomenal.
Matsu chef-owner William Eick fell in love with Japanese culture as a young kid obsessed with cars. He wanted to be a mechanic, not a chef, and Japanese car culture is legendary. Years after he started cooking for a living, he finally made it to Japan.
“I felt like I was home, and it changed everything,” he says. “How I wanted to cook, what I wanted to cook, where I wanted to cook. It was everything. The hospitality, the simplicity, the cleanliness (clutter drives me nuts), the respect for nature, the dedication, even down to decor.”
And so, Matsu. A tasting menu concept. Built on his own, without investors, putting everything on the line. The name means ‘pine’ in Japanese, and the pine has deep roots in both Japan and San Diego. His restaurant is a minimalist ode to both cultures. Japanese techniques and traditions, Southern California ingredients and terroir.
“My wife’s fathers side originally came from China, immigrating through Southeast Asia, through the Pacific, before making it to Oceanside, and they stopped at an island named Matsu,” he says.
And about that cabbage. It’s a “gyoza” made by grilling the outer leaves, sauteing cabbage pulp that’s left over from the juicing process, clarified cabbage juice “dashi,” and kaluga hybrid caviar. Cabbage has never been so loved.
These are the people of San Diego’s food + drink scene. These are the dishes and drinks we think you should see, taste, experience. We’ll be telling their stories all summer, and then bring them all together on the same stretch of grass for the Del Mar Wine + Food Festival to celebrate the city’s food culture. You should join us.