Tokyo Table Trip

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Welcome to the tempura edition of our popular series, "Rising Star Restaurants"!
This time, we'll be introducing 9 restaurants carving their own path separate from the standard Edo-mae tempura, instead choosing to explore new options unthinkable in traditional tempura recipes!

1. Naruse

This restaurant forges its own unique style of tempura, deviating from standard Edo-mae style by using ingredients such as vegetables harvested at the foot of Mt. Fuji and seafood from Suruga Bay.
The owner of Naruse happily told us, "My tempura begins with the ingredients. I get my fish from a fishmonger in Yaizu and my vegetables every morning from farmers in Haibara. I've created tempura that you can only get here thanks to my collaboration with them."
The omakase course here changes by the day, but it begins with thick cuts of locally-fished beltfish and ten or so pieces made with seasonal fish and vegetables.
The climax of our visit was a thick piece of aji (horse mackerel) tempura, made with a fish that was raised eating plenty of sakura shrimp in Suruga Bay.
As you bite into the medium-cooked piece, wrapped in delightful tempura coating, the moist fish explodes into deliciously clean umami flavors, and the mellow aroma from the meat fills your nose.
Naruse created its own "Suruga-style" tempura thanks to how closely the restaurant and its ingredients are intertwined.
Many gourmands and foodies from across Japan are eagerly heading to Shizuoka to enjoy this take on tempura that uses fresh ingredients from the mountains and sea, said to truly make you feel alive.

◆Tempura Naruse
Address: 2-5-12 Takajo, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture
Phone: 054-273-0703
Hours:
[Lunch] 12:00-14:00
[Dinner] 17:00-19:00 / 19:30-22:00 ※Dinner services are split into two parts
Budget: 15,000-19,999 yen
Closed: Mondays
Credit cards accepted (JCB, AMEX)

2. Niitome

Niitome has garnered significant attention as the holder of the #1 spot on Tabelog's tempura restaurant ratings.
Now customers are flocking in from across Japan to try the exquisite tempura served here at "Niitome."
The tempura here is unique in that its batter is made with flour that has been chilled to around -10°C, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture almost reminiscent of a light snowfall.
The ingredients used are, of course, the highest-quality fish caught in local waters, including ayu (sweetfish), awabi (abalone), fugu (pufferfish), and tai (sea bream).
Chef Takaaki Sugita of iconic Tokyo sushi restaurant "Nihonbashi Kakigaracho Sugita" and Chef Yasuji Kimura of "Kimura" are said to visit Niitome frequently looking for an exciting meal. If you're looking for the hottest tempura in Japan right now, this is the place!

◆Niitome
Address: 2F 2-19-11 Izumi, Higashi-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi Prefecture
Phone: 052-936-2077
Hours: 18:00 onward
Budget: 30,000 yen and up
Closed: Irregular holidays
Credit cards accepted (VISA, MASTER, JCB, AMEX, Diners)

3. Nihonbashi Sonoji

This is the only tempura restaurant in Tokyo where you can enjoy "Shizuoka tempura," a style that broke out thanks to "Naruse."
Much like "Naruse," Sonoji throws itself free of traditional ingredients and uses blue-backed fish and sliced fish in its tempura, considered taboos in traditional Edo-mae tempura restaurants, and even sometimes utilizes venison!
We'd like to give a special mention to their vegetable tempura, made with vegetables from Shizuoka, as it has a distinctly powerful flavor.
There's probably no other tempura restaurant where you can enjoy the pure flavors of vegetables like carrots, onions, lotus root, and sweet potato this much.
As the owner's family runs a soba restaurant, Sonoji is also unique in that the final dish served is not kakiage, but rather house-made soba noodles.
Finish up the lovely course with a refreshing serving of satisfying soba!

◆Nihonbashi Sonoji
Address: 2-22-11 Nihonbashiningyocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5643-1566
Hours:
[Lunch] 11:40-14:00
[Dinner] 18:00-21:00
Budget: 15,000-19,999 yen
Closed: Mondays, second and third Sundays of the month
Credit cards accepted (VISA, MASTER, JCB)

4. Nakagawa

This famous restaurant is tucked away near Tsukiji Station, and it's definitely a restaurant that's known to those in the know.
The owner here is an experienced tempura chef, who trained for over 17 years at world-famous restaurant "Mikawa Zezankyo."
The techniques that the owner uses to cook, honed for the 10 years he has run his own establishment, are said to be so high-level that they are even superior to that at "Mikawa Zezankyo," according to some gourmands.
Here you can enjoy both airy dishes and fragrant and crispy dishes while listening to tales of adventures.
The dishes put out by the chef here using first-class ingredients are truly splendid, including preparations of seasonal ingredients like mountain vegetables in the spring, anago in the summer, matsutake mushrooms in the fall, and tiger puffer in the winter.
Nakagawa is somewhere that you'll want to visit intermittently to take full advantage of its delicious seasonal tempura.

◆Nakagawa
Address: 2-14-2 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3546-7335
Hours:
[Lunch] 11:30-13:30
[Dinner] 17:00-22:00
Budget: 15,000-19,999 yen
Closed: Mondays
Credit cards not accepted

5. Tempura Maehira

This new restaurant was opened in 2017 by a chef who has experience working at "Yamanoue," a restaurant lauded as the best tempura restaurant in Tokyo.
While the chef here follows traditional Edo-mae tempura techniques, recently he has begun to offer several trendy tempura options as well, gathering much attention from tempura fans.
Among all of the pieces served in the exquisite omakase course, the "anago tendon" stands out above the rest.
If you break up the burdock and ginger kakiage and mix it in with the rice, you'll get to experience delicious harmony between the crispy and soft textures and contrasting flavors!

◆Tempura Maehira
Address: 4F 2-8-16 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-6435-1996
Hours: 17:00-22:00
Budget: 20,000-29,999 yen
Closed: Sundays
Credit cards accepted

6. Edomae Shinsaku

This noteworthy new restaurant was opened by a chef who has no experience working at tempura restaurants.
The owner found himself enamored with "Mikawa Zezankyo," which he frequented as a customer, and he practiced tempura-making by watching the movements of legendary tempura chef Tetsuya Saotome and cooking at home. As a result of his hard work, he finally was able to realize his dreams and hopen his own tempura restaurant.
The "Mikawa-style" anago is split into pieces with chopsticks before the customers' eyes, and the combination of the exquisitely tender meat with the crisp batter is indescribably delicious.
The pairing of the tempura with the aged sake here, said to be the owner's favorite, is also splendid.
Courses here are finished off with refreshing maguro (tuna) ochazuke, a lovely fresh final note.
This is because the "once-newbie" owner has great sense, believing that "some people may think that ending the meal with kakiage is a bit heavy after eating so much tempura."

◆Edomae Shinsaku
Address: 4-2-4 Hongo, Bukyo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 050-5593-6140
Hours: 18:00-21:30
Budget: 10,000-14,999 yen
Closed: Sundays
Credit cards not accepted

7. Tempura Shimomura

This hot tempura restaurant is located in Tokyo's shitamachi and is owned by a chef who trained at the famous restaurant "Yamanoue."
The lunch courses available are priced at 4500 and 6000 yen, surprisingly affordable for a restaurant with ties to the "Yamanoue" group.
While none of the ingredients used in the tempura here stand out in particular, the delicious harmony between the vibrant and delicate fish and vegetables and the high-quality airy batter is truly something special.
How will the tempura served by this chef with over 20 years of experience evolve from its current style very reminiscent of that at "Yamanoue"? This is absolutely an excellent restaurant to keep your eye on as it continues to grow.

◆Tempura Shimomura
Address: 1-11-13 Misuji, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5809-2866
Hours:
[Lunch] 12:00-14:00
[Dinner] 17:00-21:00
Budget: 20,000-29,999 yen
Closed: Sundays
Credit cards accepted (VISA, MASTER)

8. Fukuan

This reasonably-priced tempura restaurant was opened by a chef who worked under Tetsuya Saotome, the so-called god of tempura who runs "Mikawa Zezankyo," for 7 years.
While Fukuan caters to the everyday customer and is decidedly "izakaya-esque," the food you get here absolutely is influenced by "Mikawa."
Tiger shrimp, kisu (sillago), bigfin reef squid, mantis shrimp, anago... The Edo-mae ingredients used here are certainly not of the absolute highest quality, but the chef of Fukuan is able to turn them into first-class dishes with his incredible talents.
The dinnertime omakase course is surprisingly cheap at just 3500 yen.
If you're looking for authentic Edo-mae tempura in Tokyo for 5000 yen or less, "Fukuan" is a great option for you.

◆Fukuan
Address: 2F 1-22-26 Tomioka, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5646-6365
Hours:
[Lunch] 11:45-13:30
[Dinner] 18:30-22:00
Budget: 4,000-4,999 yen
Closed: Sundays
Credit cards accepted (VISA, MASTER, JCB, AMEX, Diners)

9. Tempura Ono

This unique tempura restaurant is owned by someone who has also served as the producer of the Cabinet Office's Cool Japan policies.
Tempura Ono seeks to create a marriage between tempura and wine and champagne, going so far as retaining a French staff-member from Champagne.
A scallop cooked to rare and topped with truffle is paired with champagne, when you order the tempura and wine pairings.
Finely sliced ginger provides an accent flavor for flaked tuna, which is paired with white wine.
The owner of Tempura Ono has switched careers from being a businessman to being a tempura chef, but his sense for flavors is top-notch.
Can tempura and wine be paired together well? If you'd like to find out the answer for yourself, stop by this decidedly unique tempura restaurant.

◆Tempura Ono
Address: 3F 2-15-5 Hatchobori, Chuo-ku, tokyo
Phone: 03-3552-4600
Hours: 17:30-21:00
Budget: 15,000-19,999 yen
Closed: Saturdays, Sundays
Credit cards accepted (VISA, MASTER, AMEX)

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Gourmetrvlr

Hi Saito san, I recently tried reserving Tempura Nakagawa through our hotel's concierge but was told that Tempura Nakagawa is unable to take reservations from foreigners due to communication difficulties. Is that your understanding?

That aside, this website is a treasure trove! I am always on the look out for hidden gems not discovered by tourists yet, so thank you.

about 2 months ago

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guest

Hi, I would like to know this as well. Im considering to make a reservation for Tempura Nakagawa in March. Do they take reservations from foreigners? Thank you

10 days ago

guest

Hi Saito San, for Naruse in the article it says 4,000-4,999 JPY? Is this for lunch course? From what I saw on Tabelog it's more expensive than this. Are the courses/price same for both lunch and dinner at this restaurant? Thank you very much!

3 months ago

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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

I apologize. The budget for the menu for lunch and dinner will both be 15,000 to 20,000 yen. I will make the amendment.

3 months ago

guest

Saito-san,can I check whether you have tried kusunoki? How does it compares to naruse and niitome which you have recommended here?

3 months ago

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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

I've never been to "Kusunoki", and I doubt that I'll be going there in the future, so it's hard to compare.
Incidentally, when someone I know went there just recently, he ordered omakase-course and had two glasses of white wine, and I heard the check was over ¥70,000.

3 months ago

御馳走様

Thank you very much Saito san. I was hoping you would write an article about the tempura restaurants that are either relatively new or recently relocated to Tokyo, in comparison to the long established places in the city.

I have only been to SONOJI of these discussed here, but may have a chance to visit Niitome soon. i always wanted to integrate a tempura meal into my trip routines, but find tempura always takes a back seat when I plan, due to lack of options. For me, yama no ue lineage restaurants are tasty but lack the wow factor. I would probably go to fukamachi quite often if I live in the city, but otherwise I dont get very excited to visit the place when I fly in from oversea. Meals at mikawa feels more special to me, but the environment (somewhat cold service, small place packed with tourists) is a bit discouraging and prevents me from visiting often. I liked Mikasa but it is very hard to reserve and not as convenient to visit. My wife kind of likes nanachoume kyouboshi, and I see the reviews turn to be quite divided,

Saito san, I was wondering what your favorite tempura places/styles are. Among the new style (with more non-tempura dishes and creative ingredients) or recently relocated places (Kusunoki) and these you introduced (esp Naruse and Niitome) here, which ones get to be on your pocket list and why?

Thanks. Appreciate the thoughts.

4 months ago

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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

”Naruse“ is one of my favorite restaurants in Japan, along with ”Shimidzu.“
I dine there every season, and they let me enjoy seasonal fish and vegetables in such a creative way that it challenges the concept of ”tempura.“
I once visited ”Niidome,“ and the surprisingly fine taste of their thin-battered tempura really impressed me,
but going to Nagoya on a day trip is not a hassle-free experience, so I do not dine their regularly at the moment.

4 months ago
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御馳走様

Thanks Saito san. Great to hear your thoughts. Niitome san seems to be quite active participating in collaboration events, so hopefully there will be more chances to taste their masterpieces in Tokyo.

3 months ago

localtaste

Thank you Saito San for great insight and superb info, as always. Please allow me to share my experience.

Fukuan stopped their lunch service last time I checked with them.

At one point, I really wanted to visit Naruse. I had a hard time trying to book and I tried a few ways like different concierges. The last attempt came with reason like they were full for the whole year and didn’t know when would they start accepting new booking. However, it seems they worked with Pocket concierge but I never use pocket concierge. I wonder if any visitor has any success visiting them.

4 months ago

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guest

Was looking through the tabelog reviews. Seems like new visitors need to be invited by a regular customer and the reservation is 6 months before. At least from what I understand from the English translation of the tabelog review. Link:
https://s.tabelog.com/shizuoka/A2201/A220101/22015243/dtlrvwlst/B360971572/

4 months ago
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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

The owner has confirmed that the reservation policy will be changed to "accepting reservations two months ahead on the first day of each month (which means, reservation for January done on November 1), starting from November.
I think there will be fights over the seats since it is a small shop with only seven seats, but it should be easier to make a reservation than before.

4 months ago
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御馳走様

pocket concierge can be for last minute cancellations (I didn't use them either, just guessing). A while ago our ryokan in izu was able to make a reservation at naruse for us, but unfortunately our schedule changed.

4 months ago

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