5 tempura foods you must try in Japan
When you visit a typical Japanese restaurant in a foreign country, three items are considered as the national signature dish of Japan: Sushi, Teriyaki, and Tempura.
(I would personally call them the “”big-three” )
A typical tempura platter consists of a few sticks of deep-fried shrimp, usually covered with a thick layer of heavy batter , and some ordinary veggies like pumpkin tempura, carrot tempura, broccoli tempura and so forth.
Well, when you are in Japan, you’ll see a lot more varieties than this.
Consider the following options when you are in Osaka:
1. Ginger tempura
Benishouga (Red ginger) is one of the signature dishes at this Tempura-specialty store in Osaka called “Nisshindou”, located in Kuromon Ichiba Shopping District. This little tempura shack is also famous for its gigantic eel tempura!
Access: Kuromon Ichiba, 5 minutes walk from Exit #10 at Nihonbashi Station, Osaka
2. Sesame tofu tempura
Sesame tofu (Goma-dofu) is made from 3 simple ingredients: Ground sesame paste, water, and starch like kuzu. Creamy and light, with nutty flavor, goma-dofu is one of my favorite Japanese dishes.
3. Pufferfish’s milt tempura
If you are feeling adventurous, try this eccentric part of blowfish called “shirako”: a fish sperm sack! 3 pieces for 1000 Yen.
4. Ice cream
To wash down what you just read…
Ogura-matcha ice cream (red bean & green tea ice cream)
And some tempura chocolate (black & white)
Items #2 to #4 as well as 100 other items including seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits and cheese are listed on the menu at “Tenpurayasan” (Tempura Restaurant) in Nanba, Osaka.
Dishes are served with a variety of flavored salt, not with the typical dipping sauce.
Orders are à la carte basis and each item costs only about 100 Yen.
If you are interested in eating as many different kinds of tempura as possible, it is worth a visit.
Restaurant’s Name: Tempura Yasan
Address: 3-5-6 Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Hours: 12：00～14：00, 17：00～22：00, closed on Mondays
Access: 325m from Nankai Nanba Station.
If generous volume is what you are after, then look no further than “Fukagawa Tsuribune” in Kunitachi, Tokyo. Here, you’ll meet my last choice of “Must-try tempura food in Japan”.
5. Monstrous kakiage-don
Place an order of “Kakiage don”, which has a stack of 36 kakiage fritters on top of a bed of steamed rice in a bowl. That’s a height of 15 inches!
For those who are not familiar with kakiage, it’s a type of tempura made with mixed vegetable strips, such as onion, carrot, and mini shrimps, which is deep-fried as round fritters.
Kakiage fritters served at this restaurant are filled with lots of sakura-ebi (very small shrimp, about a size of an inch), kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), carrot and other veggies.
Apparently you can try your best and finish maximum 7 pieces of kakiage.
But not to worry; they’ll kindly pack it up for you to take home. Leftovers go very well with hot soup, as well as on top of a hot bed of rice.
The price of this massive donburi dish is 1000 Yen. Usually customers come in with a group of 4 and share one order among them. In that case, each person spends only 250 Yen ($3 USD) and gets to eat 9 tempura fritters. That’s an awesome deal!
Every single kakiage is home made. Apparently it takes 40 minutes to complete one order of kakiage don. So, please make sure to phone in ahead of time (at least 1 day before) to make a reservation.
Restaurant’s Name: Fukagawa Tsuribune
Address: 2nd floor, Shirano Building, 1-15-18 Higashi, Kunitachi-shi, Tokyo
Hours: 11:30～14:00, 17:00～24:00
Access: 3 minutes walk from South Exit of Kunitachi Station
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