Monday, January 26, 2015

The best tempura in Tokyo, and how eating at the counter and 20 seconds matter

Two Sundays ago, some friends from Manila were over in Tokyo, living a #Travelife, and we all met up for a nice Sunday lunch before they headed off to the airport to return to Manila.

I'd been quite busy with on a hot springs and foodie trip with another visitor until that same Sunday morning, but fortunately we were able to catch up for Sunday lunch.

I'd asked them what they wanted for lunch, and they chose tempura as they love tempura and understandably so. It's pretty hard to get truly good tempura outside of Japan, for some reason.

Shrimp head tempura


Tempura looks quite simple to make. 

You dip some shrimp or some vegetables in batter and then fry it in lots of oil. This process is quite straightforward, indeed, but excellent tempura is far from elementary.

Everything matters in a good tempura: from the freshness of the ingredients, to the type of batter used and its consistency, to the freshness of the oil and its temperature when frying.

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There are many good tempura restaurants all over Japan, of course, as Japanese love tempura with a passion.

But when I want to eat very good tempura, there are only a handful of places I go to.

One of them is Mikawa Zezankyo in downtown Tokyo, and this is where we had lunch two Sundays ago, in Tokyo, living a #Travelife.

This restaurant is located in a pretty nondescript neighbourhood in the older part of Tokyo, and it's pretty hard to find but not impossible.


I like going here on Sundays because the neighbourhood is completely quiet, there's no traffic on the road, and the parking lot nearby is empty.

The best seats at Mikawa Zezankyo are at the counter.

I've eaten many times in the second-floor private room when I book late and these are the only seats available. But the counter is still better for the quality of food.


When we booked for two Sundays ago, the counter at Mikawa Zezankyo was full and so we were once more relegated to the second floor room.

This made me worry as my friends from Manila were keen on getting excellent tempura and the tempura quality really suffers whenever I eat in the second floor of this restaurant, for some reason.

So I asked them: "How long will it take to bring the tempura to the second floor?"

I know this sounds like an incredibly minute detail, but I had to ask as my Manila friends are serious foodies and they know their tempura.

The answer of the chef was "20 seconds from the fryer to the second floor."


So I decided to book the second floor room and just keep my fingers crossed that the tempura would be very good.

Well, it was okay -- in fact, it was good enough for almost anywhere -- but I still prefer eating in the counter.

When I explained this to my friends, they said: "We actually like this better. The tempura is good enough and at least we can talk while eating."

That's true.

If we had been at the counter, we would have had to quietly whisper instead of laughing and talking about Travel and Life, while eating tempura, on just another wonderful Sunday in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

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