Tenmatsu – One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

japanese tempura set X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Amazing meal at Tenmatsu, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan

Before visiting Japan, the tempura I knew was overly battered, often a little soggy, deep fried shrimp, from the Japanese buffet restaurants I had eaten at.

But when I was in Tokyo, that all changed….

While in Tokyo, among my long list of Japanese meals to eat, was tempura (天ぷら).

tokyo streets X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Common Tokyo business scene

Yukari from Food Sake Tokyo, recommended I head over to Tenmatsu Nihonbashi, a branch of the restaurant located in the business district, just off the Mitsashae-mai metro station.

She mentioned that the lunch specials were delicious, and of great value for money.

15 minutes before 11 am, Ying and I had found Tenmatsu, and were standing at the door. We were first in line!

Good thing too, because as soon as we got there, a group of ladies, and then a whole bunch of other people followed us.

tenmatsu set meal X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Tenmatsu, Nihonbashi

The clock struck 11 am, and a kind lady opened the door.

Like at many restaurants in Tokyo, you order and pay up front before you sit down.

The menu, which they have an English version of, is pretty simple, including the normal tempura set (Price – 980 Yen), tempura over a rice bowl, and the tempura with maguro zuke-don, or tempura along with a side bowl of sashimi over rice – which is what I went for (Price – 1,260 Yen)

veg X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Vegetable with ginger

As soon as we sat down, a waitress immediately placed a tray in front of us, including a couple of empty dishes, a cup of green tea, and two small garnishes; one of shredded radish (for the tempura sauce); and one of a green vegetable with a little pink pickled ginger on the side.

Japanese understand the beauty and the art of food, maybe more than anywhere else. The design, simplicity, and even the colors of the restaurant and the food, were so pleasing from the start.

tenmatsu chef X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

The tempura master serving his customers

The bottom floor of Tenmatsu is all bar seating, with a beautiful light colored wooden counter.

And unlike some of the yakitori stalls I sat at, with a counter big enough only for 1/2 the plate, the Tenmatsu counter was much more luxurious, with enough space to really enjoy it.

mark watching X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Me, watching it awe

On the second chef counter, there was a ledge, where the chef offered you his perfectly deep fried pieces of tempura, right out of the hot oil.

japanse tempura tenmatsu X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Round of tempura at Tenmatsu, Nihonbashi, Tokyo

One of the coolest things about dining in Japan is sitting at the bar seating, watching the chef prepare your meal right in front of you, and then being served bite by bite directly from the master.

dipping shrimp tempura X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Dipping the shrimp tempura

Since we were the first in line at Tenmatsu, we had the very first tempura batch of the day.

First came a duo of shrimp, hot out of the oil, and fried until just ever so lightly golden, almost pale yellow.

Unlike those overly battered fried shrimp that are oily and taste like they have a crunchy pancake wrapped around them, and where you might not even be able to detect it was a shrimp underneath the batter, this shrimp tempura was light and crispy and just amazing in flavor.

The chef ensured that the oil was of perfect temperature so the tempura fried perfectly.

The sauce, mixed with shredded radish which had be given to us on our trays, was a beautiful light and only slightly salty mixture.

My first tempura bite in Japan and I could hardly contain my joy.

broccoli tempura X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Broccoli tempura

Then came a piece of broccoli. It was soft in the center, with that same wonderful light and crispy batter on the outside.

lotus tempura X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Excuse the little green onion on my chopstick…!

The chef kept busy, frying tempura quickly, yet with expert care, and serving other diners as we nibbled on our morsels of goodness.

When we had completed our first round of tempura, and by this time I was already flying high, he served us a few more pieces, this time including some squid and a slice of lotus root.

shrimp tempura X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

The best tempura I’ve ever had

All the tempura was amazing.

I can’t say I’ve had the most high end tempura in Tokyo, or very many tempura experiences in my life either, but this meal at Tenmatsu was for sure the finest tempura I’ve ever had.

tenmatsu nihonbashi X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Moving on to my maguro zuke-don – sashimi rice bowl

But that is not all… since I ordered the magura don tempura combination set, I also got a bowl of rice topped with an artfully displayed covering of sashimi – known as a maguro zuke don (まぐろずけ丼).

sashimi bowl tenmatsu tokyo X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Deep red colored “maguro” tuna, covering rice

Below the sashimi, the rice was seasoned with seaweed, and sesame seeds, and then sprinkled with green onions.

tenmatsu tokyo X2 Tenmatsu   One of the Best Tempura (天ぷら) Restaurants in Tokyo

Outside Tenmatsu Tempura, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan

The tempura and my sashimi bowl were both outstanding at Tenmatsu.

I can say for sure that it blew away, far far away, the tempura at any Japanese buffet I had ever eaten at before. The sashimi bowl also just absolutely hit the spot.

Also, for the price of $12 ($10 if you didn’t get the sashimi bowl like I did), I thought the food and service was remarkable.

On top of the amazing food, I have to also tell you that the staff and the chef himself were all very friendly. They allowed me to take photos and even make a video, all while happy that we had eaten there.

Tenmatsu, at Nihonbashi was a wonderful tempura dining experience. If you visit Japan, I’d highly recommend you include it in your Tokyo food plans. They serve high quality food with excellent bar counter service, and you don’t have to drop 10,000 Yen ($100) for the experience!

How to get to Tenmatsu, Nihonbashi

Take the Tokyo Metro to Mitsashae-mai station, exit at B6, and make an immediate right turn around the corner. Tenmatsu Restaurant will be on your right hand side.

Address: 1-8-2 Muromachi, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Open hours: Mon – Fri: 11 am – 2 pm lunch, 5 pm – 9 pm dinner, Weekends and Holidays: 11 am – 2:30 pm lunch, 5 pm – 9 pm dinner
Prices: Go for lunch to get the best deal. My set including the sashimi bowl was 1,260 Yen ($12), while my wife ordered just the tempura set with rice for 980 Yen (under $10). I thought it was an amazing deal for the quality of food and experience.

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Comments

    • says

      Hey Jonny, I’ve just been out of Japan for a few weeks now, and I’m really missing the food already too. Will have to check out Matsumaya next time.

  1. says

    Yum! My favourite Japanese food is probably tempura especially when cooked well. I absolutely adored the tempura lotus root I had in Japan and have been desperately trying to find somewhere in Sydney to have it. Great post Mark!

  2. says

    I love Tempura. Never had it in Tokyo, though…

    I also enjoyed all the valuable information you added in the article and in Youtube. You just forgot one thing. Did you know that Tempura is originality from my home country, Portugal? If you don’t believe me, check out in the History chapter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempura

    With all I’ve learned from you already, hope I’ve managed to teach you something this time.

    Cheer’s

  3. Kioko Morganstern says

    Hi Mark. I love your comments and great video taking she does great detail of showing all so precisely . we are planning to go to Tokyo- so it,s so helpful -so exited to explore to Tokyo, you are such to joy to watch everyday thankx Kioko in Los Angeles California

  4. amos anderson says

    Hi Mark, thanks so much for your tokyo foodie guide. My family is planning to spend a night in nihonbashi and will try to get to tenmatsu! We have a one day layover in Narita and another day of layover in Kuala Lumpur before our final destination of Manila!

    Amos

  5. amira m. says

    hey mark, I’m a fan of yours! this tenmatsu restaurant that you’re eating in is the branch right? is there a price difference between the original restaurant and the branch one? because when i was searching about this restaurant the shibuya one is quite pricey… i’m going to tokyo this august and would like to try this tempura but I’m kinda on a budget! thanks :)

    • says

      Hi Amira, yes this one is the branch, and I think it is cheaper, but it’s also much more affordable at lunch time. Hope you can try Tenmatsu, I thought it was wonderful.

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