What once used to be a tearoom is now one of Kyoto’s finest kaiseki tempura shops, as well as a lovely hotel. Yoshikawa Tempura Inn’s restaurant is built in the traditional sukiya-zukuri style; the decor is simply magnificent, from the traditional Japanese furniture and artworks to the elegant futons and wooden tables. In fact, the venue gives the impression of having traveled back in time to old Kyoto. Each dish is created with high quality, beautifully arranged ingredients. There are various sets to choose from and each one is a selection of different types of sushi, tempura and other Japanese delicacies. For those how don’t like sushi, the chef will gladly prepare a succulent roasted duck as an alternative.
I enjoyed sharing a meal with friends here.
Tempura Endo Yasaka Honten
Located in the Gion district, Tempura Endo Yasaka uses only the freshest seafood and vegetables for its tempura. Prices differ for lunch and dinner and only set meals are available.
The name is misleading. When it opened in 1974, the specialty was indeed tempura — at least ostensibly. But veteran owner-chef Shunichi Matsuno has always set his sights higher. Over the years he has developed extended menus that are creative, complex and, often, inspired.
It has always been a family-run business and, these days, his son Toshio is in charge. Drawing on the experience he gained working with chefs Alain Ducasse (a regular visitor here) and Grant Achatz, the younger Matsuno is bringing an extra level of finesse.
He uses premium ingredients — Tsuiyama snow crabs; line-caught tuna landed in Aomori; lobsters from the Seto Inland Sea; wild eel from the northern tip of Lake Biwa — supplementing them with seasonal wild plants and serves it all on beautiful tableware, some of it made centuries ago.
Dining here offers a somewhat rustic but wonderful kaiseki experience with a mix of contemporary and traditional dishes on centuries old ceramics and lacquer ware. Young Matsuno san (who has done a stage at Alinea in Chicago) and his father who trained him in the traditional Japanese art of cuisine are front and center surrounded by a couple of other great, humble chefs while lady Matsuno and her daughter run the floor with a few super sweet helpers. All of them have a wonderful sense of humor and are most hospitable.
It is not necessarily the place to go if you haven’t experienced traditional Kaiseki and want to -but this is a place for people who love to engage with every aspect of true, down home hospitality, appreciate culinary flair and lap up quirky service.
A warning to those with less adventurous palates or people who cannot bear the thought of knowing that a creature featured in their dinner may need to be quickly dispatched in front of them.
Although both siblings speak English, you have to book in Japanese.
Tempura is one of Japan’s most wonderful dishes, and this friendly downtown restaurant is a great place to try it. It’s a tiny family-run joint with a welcoming atmosphere. The English-language menus and set meals make ordering easy. It’s on a corner with a small English sign.
Opening Hours: 11:30 – 2:00/5:30 – 10:30
Tempura Kaisen Komefuku is a place where you can enjoy a wide variety of tempura and seafood dishes. Here, the tempura is characterized by being fried solely in rice bran oil. With its crispy texture and the rich natural nutrients contained in the rice bran in the oil that is used for frying, it is easy to eat and light on the stomach. For lunch, it is recommended that you order the Komefuku Tendon. You’d be glad to know that the centerpiece jumbo tempura of this dish, especially shrimp, will remain crispy until you finish eating it. And for dinner, they have more than 40 kinds of tempura available for you to choose from.
Ten-ichi is a long-standing shop dedicated to tempura that was opened in 1930. The shop in Kyoto was built with the counter seats at the core, so you will be able to enjoy your freshly fried tempura while enjoying the chefs in action. Here, the recommended meal is the Ginza Course.. In this course, the eight-piece tempura set comes with small bowls of appetizers, rice, miso soup and pickled vegetables. The tempura that is fried in sesame oil is fragrant and has a crispy texture. For the last tempura dish that will be served, the kakiage (mixed vegetable and seafood tempura), you can choose to have it on top of rice, served on its own, or in the form of tempura chazuke (rice and toppings with tea poured over it). The Kyoto branch is located on the 11th floor of Kyoto central train station. (You can sit at the counter and watch each item prepared and fried for you as you order.