Tokyo, June 2016 – “If Tempura Kondo is good enough for Prime Minister Abe, it is good enough me!” – joked Mr. King. It was rumored the 2-Michelin star Tempura Kondo was in fact, Abe’s first choice restaurant for hosting American President Obama on his visit to Tokyo.
We were curious and luckily got a reservation for dinner at the 14-seat tempura restaurant. Chef Kondo was already hard at work, serving the already seated – 10 customers. The décor was traditional Japanese and everyone at Kondo Tempura was friendly. It was also lively and casual. We appreciated that our seats were front and center, and we had a good view of the skillful Chef Kondo mixing the batter and frying the tempura.
Aside from the a la carte menu, there were 3 omakase dinners to select from. We decided on the medium priced omakase (Yen 16,000 per person) that comprised of a variety of fishes, seafood and vegetables.
Before the tempura was served, we were given condiments – tempura sauce, grated daikon (white radish), salt and a wedge of lemon. It was up to the customer to choose, whether to use the sauce with daikon or salt. We tried both ways, but most of the time, we preferred just the salt.
Let’s take a look at our dinner:
Ebi – crunchy and good accompaniment to our sake.
Yuba (tofu-skin) – a summer delicacy that was cool and refreshing.
Sashimi – a combination of abalone, akami (Bluefin tuna), cod liver, wasabi leaves and conch.
Prawn heads – the batter was very light and the prawn heads were very crunchy.
Prawns – we were served one prawn at the time. The two apprentice chefs were preparing the prawns at the counter. I noticed that the prawns were still moving when their heads were detached and before being passed to Chef Kondo for the batter and frying.
Asparagus and Eggplant – we enjoyed both these vegetables, just lightly battered.
Kisu Fish – a local favorite and ideal for tempura.
Okura no hana (Okra flower) –my favorite Japanese vegetable; it is seasonal and very delicate.
Uni Wrapped in Shiso – one of Chef Kondo’s signature tempura that is a marriage of wonderful minty flavors from Shiso with creamy texture of sea urchin. Rich indulgence with a twist! This was not part of our course dinner, but ordered as an a la carte item.
White fish – I forgot the name of this fish but it was more bony than kisu, so more crispy.
Lotus Root – a Japanese favorite.
Baby sweet corn – dainty baby corn were shed from their stovers, right before being dipped into the batter and fryer.
Anago – the firmer than expected conger eel reminded me of fish and chips. By this point, we were so stuffed that we almost didn’t finish this delicious eel.
Ten Ochazuke (TenCha) – Ochazuke is hot Japanese tea and dash poured over cooked rice. In Kondo’s case, mixed prawns and baby scallops tempura were placed over the cooked rice before the broth was poured. The broth was very aromatic and filled with seafood flavors.
Throughout the meal, Chef Kondo stood there working away so that each diner was served like clockwork. His work ethics were amazing. He was also very friendly, and checked to see if we enjoyed our meal.
Tempura is served all over the world, even in non-Japanese restaurants. However, to taste traditional Japanese tempura at its finest, Japan is the place to do that. Tempura Kondo is definitely one of the best tempura restaurants in Tokyo. Our other favorite is Ten-ichi located inside Imperial Hotel.
Though the restaurant didn’t specify the length of mealtime, we noticed the queue building up at the restaurant entrance. Nevertheless, the staff at Tempura Kondo was so polite and never made us feel hurried. In any case, we guessed that (the 10 people crowding in the lift lobby) was our cue to get the bill.
Tempura Kondo is located at 9/F Sakaguchi Building in Ginza, Tokyo.
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.