[Tokyo] Within the busy urban jungle of Shinjuku 新宿, you find quite a couple of food treasures with historical value.
Tempura restaurant Tsunahachi 天ぷら新宿つな八 which was founded by Kyuzo Shimura in 1923, has remain highly popular among most locals and tourists.
(Click PLAY for video highlights of Tsunahachi.)
At the heart of Shinjuku where you get surrounded by stores from BIC Camera and Uniqlo, I was excited to find such a restaurant. FYI, another famous tempura restaurant Funabashiya Honten is within sight.
There was about a 8 – 10 people queue, and took a relatively short waiting time of 15 minutes before I got in.
Customers can choose either to sit at the counter, or at the tables.
It is at the counter where you can witness the true skills of the tempura masters.
The commitment of Tsunahachi in cooking tasty tempura boils down to using fresh ingredients, good oils – sesame in this case, and skills of the chefs. Have to agree on that.
The restaurant is also known to deep fried live shrimp for diners, and supplies are gotten from a “special route”.
Considering that I have spent quite a far bit (can be above SGD$100) at other tempura restaurants, the more reasonable price range over here is welcomed.
Lunch starts from ¥ 1,512 (SGD$19.50), and dinner from ¥2,484 (SGD$32).
A basic Tempura Set goes for ¥2,484 (SGD$32) which includes two shrimps, assorted seafood, vegetables, Anago (sea eel), deep-fried small shrimps (kakiage), appetizer; and a set of rice, miso-soup and Japanese pickles (osoroi).
There are varying menus, all the way to an Omakase priced at ¥8,000 (SGD$103).
The most popular is the Edomae Set Plate at ¥4,536 (SGD$58.49), which would include Japanese tiger prawn (Kuruma-ebi), squid, two seafood dishes, two vegetable dishes, Anago (sea eel), deep-fried small shrimps (kakiage), appetizer, and a set of rice, miso-soup and Japanese pickles (osoroi).
The pieces were deep fried right nimbly in front of you, then placed on a ‘holding’ dish. You would notice that the absorbent paper while dotted with some oil spots, won’t be incredibly oily.
There could be a restaurant or two I tried where the pieces were even lighter, tastier and less oily, but Tsunahachi was a winner in its own right.
Almost every single piece was delightful in its own way – fresh and juicy on the inside, coated with fluffy batter. Could be a notch less greasy, but I am not complaining much.
One of the most memorable pieces was an ala carte order of a Tempura Egg Yolk ¥150.
It was an amazeballs-moment when I watched the white removed from the egg, the yolk placed in batter then deep fried.
The control of the oil and timing was also crucial, as the Tempura Egg was completed with a protective coat of batter, but with runny yolk on the inside.
The chef needed to be truly experienced to execute that ‘simplest’ thing well.
3-31-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 (Shinjuku Station East Exit or Shinjuku-Sanchome Station Exits A1-A5)
Tel: 03 3352 1012
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 10:30pm
Google Maps – Tsunahachi
Other Tokyo Branches
Keio: Keio Department Store 8F, 1-1-4 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023
Ginza: Matsuya Ginza 8F, 3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104－0061
Ikebukuro:Lumine Ikebukuro 8F, 1-11-1, Nishi-ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 171-0021
Tokyo Daimaru: Daimaru Tokyo 12F, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-6701