Gallery: A Ten Course Tempura-Only Meal at Tsunahachi in Tokyo, Japan

  • Tempura Tsunohachi

    A simple but elegant sign greets you.

    The meal to come

    Your entire meal is displayed before you on a platter before the chef begins to cook.

    Watch out, they kick!

    This lively little guy jumped right off the plate, two feet through the air, and onto the counter.

    Appetizer

    Small appetizers rotate, but today was tender simmered octopus tentacles served cold, glazed with their own savory sauce.

    It begins

    It begins

    Live shrimp are the first course.

    Shrimp

    The bodies are carefully straightened before frying, the guts are removed, and the head and crunchy claws are served separately.

    A selection of salts

    Green tea salt is the traditional accompaniment to tempura. At Tsunahachi, they've got regular sea salt, seaweed salt, green tea salt, and shiso salt.

    Whiting and shishito

    Freshly butterflied whiting is served bones and all (they're small enough to crunch down on), along with a bright, crunchy long green shishito pepper. Rather than use the salt, I preferred to dip these in the dashi and daikon radish-based dipping sauce that comes on the side.

    Lotus root, clams, and sea scallops

    Lotus root stays crisp and crunchy during its fry, while giant clams are shucked, finely sliced, and returned to their shell before being battered and fried. A sweet soy-based sauce is drizzled on top and a lime wedge comes on the side. Large, sweet sea scallops that rival any New England clam shack (and that's high praise) are here as well.

    Filleting an anago

    A whole eel gets converted into two perfect fillets in a matter of seconds by the skilled sous chef.

    Fried anago

    Tender, flaky, and almost silky in texture, it's as delicate a fish as you could imagine, and one of the most popular tempura fish since the 17th century.

    Chazuke

    A final savory course of hot rice topped with kakiage—a tempura disk made of mixed ingredients, in this case tiny shrimp—gets hot green tea poured over it.

    Tempura ice cream

    And for dessert? A block of ice cream wrapped in thinly pounded pound cake, dipped in tempura, fried, and served with a fresh raspberry sauce.