Ginza Ten’ichi, Tokyo.

May 2016.

I’ve been to one other Tokyo tempera restaurant a couple of years ago, Abe, which I enjoyed. This one served flawless product, but turned out to be ultra-traditional and very high priced. We identified it through internet search featuring TripAdvisor.

It’s near the Ginza subway station and in the middle of a pretty high-class retail area, and we arrived at 11:30 for lunch and had the place to ourselves for about half an hour. We sat at a small U-shaped bar behind which a serious middle-aged chef worked his wonders, 3 feet in front of us. We were seated and set up in a social and physical atmosphere of perfection with the appropriate condiments by a lovely young lady in traditional clothing.

When we realized that the set menus range from about $100-$150 each we opted for à la carte, ordering two each of prawns, scallops, various fish, eggplant, asparagus, and onion. We each had a glass of beer.

Our chef heated up the fat, prepared the batter with cold water and (rice) flour, and produced each of the small but perfect items in some sort of sequence. Everything tasted wonderful, the tempura sauce rich and flavorful, with a lovely softly shredded daikon to mix in. Salt was available and there was a slice of lemon. The batter was thin and never detracted from the flavour of each of the items. Our favourite was probably the scallop, soft and of a good size.

About $175 all told, and we were still hungry. There are lots of ways to mess up tempura, but it can also be done properly without a huge amount of skill and preparation. We wouldn’t go back a second time, hoping to find similar quality for a bit less money.

Food 9.1, service 8.6, ambience 9.0, value 5.8.

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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