Monday, September 12, 2011

Ginza Tenkuni -- Terrific Tempura since 1885!

One of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo is a famous tempura restaurant called Ginza Tenkuni. Its sign proudly declares that it has been around since 1885. Everything in Tokyo seems to have been around since forever! Ginza Tenkuni is a ten minute walk from where I usually stay and it's a great place to sit and relax and have a solitary dinner after window shopping along Ginza.

Ginza Tenkuni occupies its own building and the restaurant starts from the basement where diners can sit at a counter and order their tempura by the piece. Not just the usual ebi, sakana, ika, but all kinds of sea food and seasonal vegetables. Prices are astronomical in the basement and I have never eaten there.
As you go up the 2nd and 3rd floors, there are western type tables and tatami style rooms for groups and private functions. Again, the prices are higher and dining is a bit more formal.

The ground floor dining room is more casual and offers tendon sets that are infinitely more affordable. There are various sets and even tempura bento boxes -- all priced at less than Y5,000. Even if the upper floors are filled with people, the ground floor dining area is usually not full, it's quiet and you can eat your meal in solitary contentment.

My favorite is the kakiage don which is chock full of chopped squid, scallops and plump shrimp. The kakiage is a huge patty that totally covers the gohan or rice underneath it. Still crisp and crunchy even if it has been doused with tendon sauce. Every bite yields a bit of fresh, tender seafood. There is quite a lot of gohan but with the sauce clinging to each grain of yummy slightly sticky japanese rice -- I find that I can easily finish the entire bowl!

My kakiage-don set comes with a bowl of miso soup, with little rolls of yuba skin and seaweed. Very soothing and comforting to the palate. There's also a small saucer of tsukemono or assorted preserved vegetables that bring added texture and flavor to the meal. Salty-sour-briny, alternatively crunchy and chewy, tsukemono enhances the taste of the dish.

Of course, I will have my glass of ice cold beer. I always order the chisai or small glass but invariably end up having another one.
Such are the pleasures of dining and drinking at Ginza Tenkuni.

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