Tempura Ten-ichi, Tokyo
June 2, 2010
On our first night in Tokyo, three weeks before, Linda and I had enjoyed the small tempura menu at the branch of Ten-ichi in the Imperial Hotel. We had not been to a tempura restaurant since then, so it seemed appropriate for us to go to the main Ten-ichi and have the big menu on our last night of the trip, April 26, 2010. It was a ten minute walk from the hotel; the high sign was evident, but the entrance was more subdued.
We were warmly welcomed and taken to a room on the lower level. There are rooms on five levels, some private tatami rooms and others with counters. Ours had a counter and tables at the end opposite of our seats. Bibs were tied around us. Trays were put in front of us with a bowl of salad; a little bowl for putting odds and ends, such as shrimp or fish tails; an amuse-gueule that I don’t remember; salt with lemon for dipping and the traditional tempura dipping sauce, ponzu with freshly grated daikon.
We ordered a bottle of the house sake, which was very good. Most of the diners were drinking beer, some iced tea. We were the only westerners; no one spoke any English, but sign language worked fine.
This sign was on the wall opposite us, but we didn’t see anyone ordering it.
Two very crisp shrimp heads started off the tempura. They had a shrimp flavor which exploded in your mouth.
Then the two shrimp, barely cooked, arrived. Exquisite flavor.
There was a group of an older woman and four younger men at the end of the counter who were having a very good time.
Butterflied ayu. Sweet and nice.
A bowl with sashimi of shrimp, shredded daikon and a fish on a shiso leaf arrived. Nice.
Tempura of mushroom stuffed with shrimp.
A large good scallop.
Asparagus in season.
The couple to our right had been ordering à la carte. We could hear him ordering uni, sea urchin. Then we could see the chefs wrapping four globs of uni in nori and frying them. I don’t think we would have received these if the man next door hadn’t ordered it, but I am not sure. It was interesting to have, but not really the best way to treat uni.
Cuttlefish and ginkos with green pepper.
The batter is in the big grey bowl and the very hot oil under the silver dome. Each piece was cooked for just the right time.
Crab leg and green shishito peppers.
I don’t remember.
These were the baskets of ingredients which were just over the counter from us. They were constantly being refilled from the back room and never had entirely the same things.
A big shrimp frittata. Substantial and very good. To be eaten over the bowl of rice.
Rice and a clam soup.
The people at the tables at the end of the room had left so we were invited to sit there for our dessert. Linda had mango and I had papaya. They were both very good.
The five at the end of the counter were still going strong. We guessed that it was a serious business discussion, but they were also serious about the food. Everyone else, except us had left.
Ten-ichi has a reputation as a celebrity restaurant and one known by tourists, but that wasn’t evident to us at all. Clinton, Chirac, Gorbachev, Sinatra and Kissinger have their photos posted. Our room was all local people except for us and one westerner who was being entertained by several Japanese. It is true that probably half our room was there for business, but they were also engaged in appreciating the food.
The ingredients were top quality and their preparation carefully done. We had a fine time.