Miyoshikai Gourmet Tour - Part 5 - Tempura at Tenmo
As regular followers of our gourmet guide to the Miyoshikai group of restaurants are now most likely well aware, one of the shared values that unites members of the group is the dedication to their respective genre of washoku, Japanese cuisine. Of course there is some crossover across restaurants, but what each strives for is a character all its own, honed over the years and by the ebb and flow of Nihombashi culture. Today's destination, Tenmo is no exception exemplifying the charming eccentricity that can only come from being part of a lineage pursuing a singular culinary and dining path, not just for decades, but generations. Tenmo's own path is tempura, preserving the authentic Edo sesame seed oil cooked flavour of tempura since 1885 where it began its life as a stall on the streets of Nihombashi before graduating to a building of its own on the backstreets in Meiji 40 (1907) where it has stayed largely unchanged to the present day.
Right from the quiet street setting just off the main Chuo-dori thoroughfare where you will find Nihombashi Mitsukoshi, you are greeted by a charming wooden building a world apart from the skyscrapers only a stone's throw away. Pushing the noren curtain aside gives way to a single spacious room for eight and nine seats in front of an unvarnished wooden counter between you and the chef; the walls and high-ceilings dyed a progressively richer shade by decades of the sesame seed oil as you look towards the beams overhead and the giant wooden Tengu mask that watches from the rafters. The sesame seed oil doesn't just lend a distinctive character to the storied interior of the building, but to the tempura itself too, with a bold aromatic flavour that stays with you as you eat.
Miyoshikai Groumet Map
The menu is entirely in the hands of the chef, fourth generation Shusuke Okuda who will guide you through a course to match the season, with the summer boasting Japanese awabi, abalone, and the autumn even putting Japanese kuri, chestnut, on the menu. With a simple accompaniment including salt sourced from within Tokyo from Aogashima island south of the city, as well as other Tokyo sourced produce including seasonal aubergine from Terashima, this is the closest you will get to the spirit of tempura of old Edo where stalls perfected the light batter with fresh fish from the Edo markets using the materials to hand in the now-Tokyo prefecture.
Given the limited seating booking in advance is highly advised, and furthermore required for the evening service on Saturdays until the day before, which of course the Foreign Service Counter at Nihombashi Mitsukoshi will be delighted to assist you with if required. So for those seeking tempura with character in a location to match, make Tenmo your next destination.
Closed from December 30, 2016 - January 4th, 2017