2 Michelin starred tempura, perhaps at the very top of the tree in Japan
This is a hideously expensive tempura restaurant, but it is a 99% likelihood that it is the best tempura you have ever eaten and it is as simple as that. I have never had tempura as good as this and one dish was almost worth the £383 (per person) price tag in itself. This 2 Michelin starred restaurant is run by Shigeya Sakakibara who has owned Kyoboshi for 10 years, cooks at the counter and his wife prepares in the kitchen. To my amazement, it was cash only which was as default causing a minor sprint to a cash machine after the meal while my associate kept the chefs on ice (a very nice couple). Keep reading to see the final tally. The bottom line is that although expensive, I have two, lifetime take away moments from this meal which I will never forget.
First things first, make sure you have the address of this restaurant printed in Kanji from the reception of your hotel in order to ask anyone in the near vicinity which, guaranteed will be useful. Secondly, bring cash, A LOT OF CASH. £400 will be a safe bet and then you can always ask for the smaller menu option, but I didn’t actually see a menu at all and not sure there is an exact science to it all.
The meal started with the prized gem of Autumn which are matsutake mushrooms brushed with lemon and lime. Uncooked mushrooms sounds pretty unexciting, but when they are so high grade you can actually smell them in the kitchen from the restaurant counter as was the case here, the signs are fairly good. These were soft whilst chewy, intense in mushroom flavour and offset with the citrus glaze, you will think yourself equally lucky to be having. These and all vegetables the chef gets from the Toyosu market in Tokyo.
I tried to establish the specific ingredients used for his tempura batter and the oil he chooses to fry his produce in, but he was having none of it and didn’t want to reveal a thing. Fair enough, when you have possibly the best of something on the planet.
First to be fried and served was shrimp with wasabi as is usual in tempura restaurants – almost like a greeting and interlude snack in between courses in some cases. All the courses were served with superbly fine salt and lemon to dip each in to. Think deep-fried fish with vinegar but on steroids at the highest level imaginable and that is not even close.
The prawn toast was perfect. It made a mockery of any sesame prawn toast had at Chinese or Japanese restaurants to date and certainly those had in the early days of school and University. Shrimp was used on a number of occasions and the pumpkin tempura was beautiful. Cold radish was served as a palette cleanser and this was great.
Cuttlefish was melt in the mouth and the ginger flower with another shrimp was lovely. Following this was red pepper which was another lovely offering. I have not had blowfish before and this was as good a way to try it as any with the frying somehow not destroying the fish flavour too much. Next was onion which was so supple and well flavoured. Matsutake mushroom tempura-fried was next and was enjoyable to have in another form to raw.
I wasn’t sure about the fig when it was told to us as we had half a fig each which looked massive to try and eat as a portion. However, not only did this disintegrate in the mouth, having been put in the magic cauldron that was being used, but the combination with a specific soy sauce was an absolute masterstroke. It’s a combination I have not had before and was a supreme moment; the kind that will not be forgotten.
Ginkgo nuts were the penultimate treat (very soft all the way through after being deep-fried). Kobe beef deep fried was cooked to perfection, although I did think it lost some of its Wagyu punch from the treatment and grilled and rested is a far superior way to have this fine meat. Either way, I wasn’t complaining as this was lovely to have. The meal finished with simple fruit, but when melons are the juiciest and freshest you have ever tasted, this is a joyous moment. The lengths Japanese farmers go to cultivate melons is astonishing – many growers will discard the lesser quality melons on any particular sprawling vine so that the nutrients from the ground and all remaining vines are fed directly into the very best ones to maximise the quality of the chosen one. The result is a fruit overflowing with sweet moisture and perfect ripeness. The pione grapes (red-skinned) tasted almost alcoholic and the muscat grapes were delightful as well.
This was an expensive meal as mentioned and once again PLEASE make sure you bring cash with you or have the quick means planned to getting some as there is an additional £40 charge to use the credit card machine. Somehow the charm of the couple and the unique powerhouse of some of the ingredients and dishes actually took the sting out of this. We won’t be making that mistake again so was a pretty harsh lesson, but something happens when you are in Japan and on holiday, somehow you end up forgiving these abnormal instances more than you would otherwise. Either way, this was the most ethereally light batter/tempura I have ever had and I cannot see how it could be improved.
Food Grade: 88%
Location (Click google logo for directions)