Tempura is a simple type of traditional food where the ingredients are covered in a batter made from flour, egg, and cold water and then deep fried in oil, but different restaurants often offer unique versions with the original ideas of the chef reflected in every aspect of preparation. High class restaurants in particular are known for using fresh seasonal ingredients that are strictly selected. The deep fried ingredients center around seafood and vegetables, and particularly popular are white fish like shrimp, squid, and “kisu” (sand borer fish) for seafood and sweet potato, pumpkin, and eggplant for vegetables. “Kakiage”, where several different kinds of items are deep fried together, is popular. Original tempura where vegetables and fish are mixed together is also very fun.
The pleasure of tempura lies in its crispy texture and savory nature. Chefs spend a lot of time researching the effects of the kind of oil used, oil temperature, length of time deep fried, and quality of the flour and egg mixture. Some restaurants offer zashiki (straw tatami mat lined rooms) and table seating, but try to sit at a counter if possible. The chef skillfully fries tempura orders and serves them piping hot. Some chefs will show still living shrimp before cooking it to display the freshness. Eat freshly fried tempura before it cools.
In general, tempura is dipped in a special tempura sauce based in a mix of dashi (broth) and soy sauce and eaten with grated daikon. Some items are eaten with salt only. Some restaurants will offer unique salt mixtures consisting of salt blended with something like curry powder, matcha (green tea powder), or ume (Japanese plums). And some places may recommend that you eat tempura with only the juice squeezed from a citrus fruit like sudachi.
(Two stars in the Michelin Guide, 2010)
Opened by Fumio Kondo, who served as the head chef at a long standing hotel for many years, this restaurant is one of the first that comes up when speaking of the top famous Tokyo tempura restaurants. Ingredients inspected with a strict eye are deep fried with the perfect timing and skill. Tempura dishes made from seasonal vegetables arranged in delightfully original ways are particularly popular. It is located in a building in the prime area of Ginza.
Average cost:Lunch/ JPY 6,000 -, Dinner/ JPY 10,000 –
Business hours: 12:00 p.m. -1:30 p.m. 5:00 p.m. -8:30 p.m.
Closed: SunSakaguchi Bldg. 9F, Ginza Chuo-ku Tokyo
Tempura Mikawa Keyakizaka-dori
(One star in the Michelin Guide, 2010)
Located in Roppongi Hills, this restaurant has a casual ambiance. Private rooms are available. The menu features a “Head chef’s choice course meal” with ten items. It received a Michelin star for the first time in 2010.
Average cost: Lunch/ JPY 2,100 -, Dinner/ JPY 10,500 –
Business hours: 11:30 a.m. -2:00 p.m. 5:30 p.m. -9:30 p.m.
Roppongi Hills residence B, 6-12-2 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo
Enjoy Japan next to Tokyo Tower “Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai”
Enjoying “traditional Japan” in Tokyo is a must. “Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai” is located near Shiba Park, which is near Tokyo Tower, and it is an exquisite spot where you can dine on Japanese food while enjoying the view of a Japanese garden in an authentic Japanese style room. The specialty of this restaurant is tofu. It is made using the best soybeans and water, and crafted by “tofu artisans” who keep to the age-old Japanese traditions. Course meals are available for lunch and dinner, incorporating sashimi and wagyu (Japanese beef) as well for healthy and delicious Japanese cuisine. (Telephone reservations are required)
Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai
4-4-13 Shiba-koen Minato-ku Tokyo
Business hours: 11:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m. (Last order: 8:00 p.m.)