Tokyo | みかわ是山居 Mikawa Zezankyo
Tempura is another treasure of the nourishing Japanese cuisine. Had been widely recognize as a symbol of tempura in the tempura history, the legendary chef Saotome of Mikawa Zezankyo has been making tempura for over 50 years since 1960s. Here as Mikawa Zezankyo, one of the best tempura restaurants in Tokyo, you can not only enjoy the freshly-cooked tempura, but can also meet with this legendary chef and watching him preparing in front of you.
Visited: Sep.22nd. 2015 (Lunch)
Address: 1-3-1 Fukuzumi, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11:30am -1:30pm; 5pm-9pm; Closed on Wednesday
Damage :Lunch ¥10,500++, Dinner ¥17,000++
Mikawa housed in a quiet residential neighborhood in Monzen-Nakacho, it is a very tradtional restauant where you have to take off your shoes before entiring the dining room. With a woody-tone decor similar to most old eateries in Japan, the nine-seat counter can seats around 10 guests.
We started with an appetizer of Edamame, deep-fried Ayu and squid (枝豆,鮎の揚げ, 烏賊). (*Pictures besides the tempura were not allowed).
As you can see, the tempura sauce at Mikawa was green which is different from the normal brown one. Here, chef added some green tea to bring a refreshing breeze. This is only available in summer, lucky me.
A tempura meal usually starts with two kuruma ebi, its head and body is served separately. You suppose to eat the first piece of each with salt, followed by dipping into the green tea sauce. The tempura battering was quite thin and crispy, and i notice the color was browner than other tempura places since it is a symbol of old-school. I liked the prawn body which was crispy on the outside, sweet and tender on the inside.
Followed by Kisu (Japanese whiting) with a delicate crunch and soft, fluffy center. Ika (squid) was textural but a bit lack of flavours. Next was Megochi (big-eyed flathead fish) itself has a firmer texture but the umami flavors still.
Clear soup with water shield and a prawn cake - simple but delicious.
The legendary anago (sea eel) was definitely the highlight of the meal. Chef Sanotome cut it into two halves with his 'magic' chopsticks on my plate, leaving a framatic puff of steam along side a mouth-watering smelling. Loved the cripsy outside and incredibly moist center.
You may choose 2 seasonal vegetables before serving the rice dish. Two of us tried 4 different kinds of vegetables: shiitake mushroom, asparagus, eggplant and sweet potato. Unfortuantely, we both think the vegetable tempera was rather disappointing here, especially the sweet potato which was under-cooking, Tempura Kondo (近藤**) definitely serves better sweet potato tempura.
We didn't realize our favourite Uni tempura yet arrived until the pickles arrived, which is a symbol of the upcoming rice dishes. Unfortunately, Chef told us we cannot have it because we were late for five minutes (in a quite bad manner).
For rice dishes, you may choose either Ten-don (天丼) or Ten-cha (天茶).Ten-cha (tempura & hot green tea over rice) is an old love to me since it is lighter and it is hard to find great tea base outside this sushi land.
Unfortunately, the tencha was rather disappointing because the tea base was lack of fragrance. Besides that, the Kakiage was made of only prawns which was less umami compare to the mixed seafood Kakiage i had at Kondo and Fukamachi. The entire bowl was lack of spirit.
The meal was overall not bad but i am not a fan of old-school style tempura here. From the browner color battering you can tell that the tempura is heavier, and it was indeed more oily. Another unpleasant part was the service, neither the chef nor the server wore a smile on their faces, the server had horrible manner when he talks. This was quite rare in Japan and worsen my impression to this famous tempura place.