My two go-to tempura restaurants — Edomae Shinsaku and Sonoji — have become incredibly hard to reserve over the past few years. Edomae Shinsaku used to take reservations on Tabelog, with seats available on the same week, but since moving to Omakase, I could never find any availability.
More recently, I tried booking seats at Ten Yokota via Omakase, but again, seats were snapped up within minutes of release. I also heard that Takiya has stopped taking reservations from hotel concierges.
Anyway, rant aside, does anyone have recommendations for tempura places that are reasonably easy to book 2 months out? I looked at Asanuma, but the chef there seems to prefer a thicker coating of batter (my preference is for less focus on the batter, it should be delicate). I’m also considering Motoyoshi, but am not sure how difficult it is to book nowadays?
Just remembered that this thread existed:
Probably going to give Tempura Maehira a shot. If anyone has any detailed impressions, would appreciate your feedback :)
Motoyoshi is not too hard to book, and it is excellent (my favorite alongside Sonoji).
Fukamachi is okay and very easy to book. A decent backup choice.
Oh? Motoyoshi isn’t hard to book? I’d always assumed that it was hard (especially given the longtime fame and relocation hype). Thanks for the tip!
I wouldn't say that it isn't hard to book, I'd say it isn't *too* hard to book. I've had success with several (good) hotel concierges. YMMV.
Tenhaku isn't too hard to book. They open 1 month ahead.
Haha unfortunately it's a bit far out for my next trip, but perhaps for next time! I like that they post their calendar with vacancies online like Motoyoshi though :)
Asanuma is my latest push.
Haha between your recommendation and the great review on Tokyo Gourmet's blog, I decided to make a booking for Asanuma :), even though his batter does seem a bit thicker than my usual preference.
tenhaku uses very thin batter and is not that far from Tokyo (~35 min by Narita express + taxi). I am happy I visited them thanks to Saito SAN’s recommendation. Their Shirako with Nori and unagi were both very delicious and customers got to eat a lot of veggie.
I don't know why I cannot secure a table from tenhaku. I saw there are seats available on their website but they keep replying 申し訳ありません 満席です。
Maybe they know you are a foreign visitor? Try getting your hotel concierge to book for you.
I’ll try to get a slot for Feb and report back if I have the same issue.
I'm an absolute beginner when it comes to Tempura (only tried 3 in Tokyo), but would like to say I absolutely loved Asanuma. Tried this during my latest Japan visit based on Saito-san's recommendation (huge thanks, Saito-san), and was definitely delighted with the experience. All the regular seafood items were solid, I especially liked hotate. I also found the prawn toast (largely similar to the Cantonese dish, but tastes much more premium) very interesting and good. What really hit home for me was some of the vegetables - Kita-kamui potatoes from Hokkaido were especially good (I am a strict sweet potato > potato person usually but this piece really unleashed the full potential of a probably very good potato to begin with), and I really liked the soramame as well.
We speak limited Japanese so our conversation with Asanuma-san requires a little more effort in the beginning, but he was very friendly and helped us with questions about some of the items we had more questions about.
One of the places I really feel like returning to asap.
@kanivour Thanks for the review! Even more excited now for my visit next month.
I tried Ten Yokota recently, and everything was uniformly good, but there were no standouts that would make me want to camp for the tough reservation on Omakase again. One interesting choice was frying his fukinoto till it was yellowed/browned. I suppose the intent was to let the fried/caramelized flavour compete with the strong bitter notes, but I found that I preferred it lightly fried, haha. Yama
udo and a mushroom “sando” were the best pieces, the former being lightly fried ;). It was nice to be able to have a good selection of spring veggies in early Feb.
That said, I did have a standout tempura experience at Mokkosu, 1hr from Tokyo. The chef’s ingredient sourcing was really good. The spinach root was as sweet as carrots, the uni was as good as Inomata’s, and the anago (filleted live) was as good in taste as in theatre. There’s only one huge caveat, which is that the chef loves the flavour of oil. In fact, he actually spoons oil onto some dishes (e.g. his shiitake) before serving, and mixes it with homemade shoyu to form a sauce. Very similar to how Cantonese steamed fish is finished. It’s all good until 2/3 through the meal, when the oil starts catching up. A third of the counter couldn’t make it to the end and had their rice dishes as takeaway. But if you’re good with oil, definitely go. The CP is fantastic.
Just would like to post a review on tempura asanuma.
To begin with, there are already a few very detailed tempura reviews on tempura asanuma online. I would like to provide my personal perspective on top of karnivour's.
Detailed english reviews online
Personal experience / Disclaimer
I have only been to tempura Takiya and a couple of counter tempuras from where I am from. Please take my review with a grain of salt.
Chef tsutomu asanuma is from tempura tenichi and asanuma's focus is for the customers to taste the tempura batter. The batter is crispy and airy and seems to melt away while you are biting away at the tempura. I presumed the reason for the airiness is because of storing the floor at a low temperature (-24 degree Celsius) and chef asanuma beating away at the batter very rapidly that even my 4-year old daughter was asking me "What's that sound?".
It is apparent from my above remarks that asanuma-san allows for kids at his restaurant. Both him and okami-san(which I have read seems to be his childhood friend) are very polite and hospitable. They speak little english but good enough to explain the ingredients.
There are no ultra-luxurious ingredients in the usual set, so don't expect things like awabi, uni or wagyu in your meals. Uni tempura would be included if you specifically requested for it.
Traditional tempura pieces like kuruma ebi, kisu and anago were great.
Two pieces of hotate were served: One half as it in, the other half on top of a piece of seaweed with shichimi and salt.
is not to my preference as I felt it overpowered the natural sweetness of hotate.
The vegetables were what really stood out. Zucchini with a thin batter to emphasize the sweetness and broccoli were extremely good and the way the tentsuyu blended in with the slightly burnt brocoli just amplified the taste of the tempura.
1. You can reserve on tabelog, by just converting your name in Japanese and creating an account.
2. You can also reserve by sending their a DM via IG(https://www.instagram.com/tempura_asanuma_/?igshid=NTc4MTIwNjQ2YQ%3D%3D) 3 months ahead. You can message them in Jun for a Sept seat.
It costs me 70,000jpy for 4 persons with orders of green tea and apple juices, which works out to 17,500 jpy per person.
Look somewhere else(e.g.takiya) if you like luxurious ingredients but asanuma is a promising restaurant with little flaws with a very reasonable price in the ultra-inflated Tokyo dining scene.
This is definitely a restaurant which I hope to revisit in the future.
Looks like Asanuma no longer takes reservations via tabelog..
@Yee they have probably closed their reservations for the next 3 months. They have gotten really popular after being featured on dancyu and featured as 1 of tabelog top 100 tempura restaurants. You can still DM them at 1st of each month for the next 3 months dates to make a reservation.
He still takes bookings via Tabelog but they're all taken by around the 5th of each month.
Thanks! I’ll try to DM to book Asanuma on 1 June then.