We chose to go with a dinner set and make things a lot easier. Rice and miso soup, the standard, were immediately given along with dipping sauce and two different kinds of grated radishes: regular and ume flavored. The latter being my favorite and stealing the show. The miso soup was extraordinary, full of little tiny clams, the broth was so flavorful and probably the best miso soup I've ever had.
The chef, who is cooking these right in front of you, started us off with prawns. With first bite, I was in absolute heaven! I'm not too crazy about tempura because in the States, they're all the same. Tempura never really stood out to me. Until now... They use their own special blend of oils to fry making the batter completely different from what I was used to. It wasn't as greasy or oily and had lots of flavor. The prawns itself was so moist and delicious - just plain fabulous.
Next up was, I think, cuttlefish. I can't100% sure, but honestly, I didn't even try to ask what kind of fish it was. I just wanted to eat. The fish was moist and quite good. It was mild in flavor and not too "fishy."
The mushrooms were next and these were one of my favorites of the night, right after the prawns. The slight sweetness from the batter went great with the earthiness from the mushrooms. The batter, again, was perfect - not too thick and wonderfully crispy.
I've never had deep fried eel and I don't know why, but I was expecting to not like it. However, I found the eel to be incredibly tender and delicious. I guess, just like with bacon, deep-frying makes everything better.
kakiage of shrimp and scallops
Our last tempura of the night was a mix of chopped up prawns and scallops, another favorite of mine. I was incredibly full by this point, but I had to finish every bite of this. It was fantastic. The sweet and soft prawns and scallops with the crunchy texture of the batter was something out of this world.
Afterward, we were given some sliced pickled daikon to cleanse our palates from the oil. Both J and I were incredibly full and exhausted that we had to stay behind at the restaurant just a bit longer to not only digest, but to muster up the energy to walk our tired butts back to the hotel. Talk about your spoiled Americans...
On our way back, we went into an arcade filled with these crane claw machines, sticker picture booths and of course, all the latest Japanese arcade games from shooting zombies to racing cars. It seemed they had one of these on almost every block, all over city. I wanted to take sticker pictures, but since J and I both don't read or speak Japanese, that proved to be a challenge.
My first meal in Tokyo proved to be totally satisfying and just plain heavenly. I always knew the food in Japan would be amazing, but imagining and actually tasting are two different things. Even as we walked back and explored our neighborhood, I could not stop talking about the food. I think J tuned me out, as he usually does, but I didn't care. I was full and I was happy. The excitement of my vacation was slowly seeping in and I couldn't wait for what tomorrow would bring...
3-31-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Shinjuku