Abe, Tokyo.

February 2015.

Restaurants in this town specialize. There are sushi restaurants, sukiyaki or hot pot restaurants, etc. I realized having lunch with some healthcare people that I haven’t really tried tempura. So I googled up trusty Michelin-on-line and had a look at the 20 listed under that category. There was one within a few blocks of my hotel, and that’s where I went.

Speaking of Google, my map app had me right on top of the place but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Walk into a restaurant obviously by another name at the guy pointed downward. You mean this is it? No, no – he took me outside to an elevator: it’s in the basement. Off the elevator I’m in a little dive with the usual long counter. Great smells. The lovely little girl seated me without a reservation.

There were three set menus, an English-language version, and I went for the middle one at ¥5000. It was more than adequate and very good.

Tuna sashimi came first, and then two little deep-fried small shrimp anterior bodies, delicious salted. Two tempura prawns were fairly perfect dipped in the smoky liquid sauce, and then a string of tempura: peas and pods, an oyster, a root vegetable (not my favourite: chewy and lacking in flavour), a very small fish eaten whole, a bowl of rice with delicious little crunchy morsels of cut-up shrimp or prawn, and a deep-fried sweetish cookie of some kind with something in the middle. Everything was very nicely prepared, served with a nice cadence that satisfied but didn’t hurry, and easily seasoned with the two types of salt and sauces available.

Dinner finished up with a small bowl of Asian soup with some tofu, and then an interesting bowl of iced coffee with some sort of latte treatment, served in a big bowl on ice.

The guys behind the counter, two of them, were competent but humourless. The girl server made up for them by being tiny, charming, and friendly. Dinner was $69 with two glasses of beer. I could’ve done a great deal worse.

Food 8.2, service 8.1, ambience 7.7, value 7.9. Somehow the scores don’t reflect the overall experience which I would put in the mid-8s.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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