In the normal world of fine dining 38 000 Yen or 290 Euros will buy you a tasting menu containing at least a bit of truffles,caviar or other expensive ingredients. Not in Tokyo’s 3 Michelin starred 10 seat tempura restaurant 7 Chome Kyoboshi (Ozio Ginza Building 6F, 5-5-9 Ginza, Chuo-ku,Tokyo; tel.03-3572-3568) which serves the best and definitely the most expensive deep fried vegetables, shrimps and fish in the world.
At 7 Chome Kyoboshi you will realize that a chunk of simple lotus root or a sweet shrimp covered in a fine layer of batter and briefly fried in oil can be as luxurious in it’s flavors as A5 grade Japanese beef or o-toro sashimi. The experience itself is as special as the tiny, bite-sized morsels of tempura served. When I was at 7 Chome Kyoboshi 4 years ago, my friend and I were the only guests at this small counter restaurant. This time, apart of me alone, there was also a Japanese couple dining.
When I came to the restaurant at 7.30 pm sensei Shigeya Sakakibara, who is originally from Kyoto, was mixing the batter and doing last minute dinner preparations. Soon the magic started when Sakakibara san deep fried a tiny “croque-monsieur” with shrimps and placed it on a white absorbing paper in front of us. The sandwich was so good I could have eaten ten of them. Then other bites followed… Splendid kisu (Japanese whiting fish), hamo (pike eel),numerous sweet shrimps, skilfully prepared squid which tasted more like a piece of high quality white fish than squid,abalone (probably the most pricey ingredient of the dinner), runny quail egg and various vegetables and mushrooms.Each product had different frying time and didn’t contain any extra oil whatsoever… When the savory part was over, the sensei went to the back kitchen and soon returned with a dessert, half of momo (white peach) for each of us. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything like this. The fruit was extremely fragrant, juicy and tasted more like a melon than a peach… A perfection has a price of course and in my dinner at 7 chome Kyoboshi case it was 42 000 Yen with just one glass of white wine… Definitely not cheap, yet changing my perception of how tempura should taste, forever..