Review Score: 90 / 100.
For my restaurant bookings in Japan, I would typically reserve via my hotel’s concierge, whom have been extremely patient with my difficult requests. This time, I had opted to try out Tableall, a website which assists folks to access difficult to get into restaurants. This is certainly a welcome as some local establishments prefer Japanese clientele, or at least accompanied by a Japanese speaking person. For a fee, I had reserved two seats at Tempura Motoyoshi, which is a one Michelin starred establishment helmed by a young but undoubtedly capable chef or Shokunin who specializes in the art of tempura.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures as I was instructed by Tableall not to take any. But once the other guests started snapping away, I managed to capture a few snippets.
We started off with a Sashimi of baby Tuna, which was immensely luscious and tender, more so than the regular Toro. The quality of the fish was most impressive, and probably the best I had during this trip. Next, we moved onto a tempura of shrimp heads, which we were instructed to dab with salt. The lightness of the batter was perfect, and the shrimp heads were crisp and surprisingly delicate. The salt added a nice pop to the dish. Moving on were two consecutive tempura shrimps, the first of which was delicate and sweet. The next shrimp was meatier but also brimming with natural sweetness. After that, we were served asparagus, which was lightly battered and the had perfect bite and tender interior. The following tempura was of a very delicate white fish, which was perfectly cooked and quite lovely. After that, was Shittake mushroom, which had a meaty texture and was delicious. Moving on, we were presented Shinaugo (at least I think that’s how it’s spelled), which are tiny fishes that look like whitebait. This was also lightly battered, and very light and delicate.
At this point, I must say the pacing of dishes was not rushed and very deliberately presented, which was quite a relaxing and comfortable experience for the diner. A stark contrast compared to the likes of Ishikawa and Tempura Kondo (Reviews to come shortly), which felt a bit more frenetic.
As an intermezzo, the chef had prepared an amuse bouche which is a play on Japanese breakfast with fried seaweed, rice egg, and what appears to be Cod. This was a very flavourful and delicious bite of food. Now, back to the main tempura dishes which kicked off with two different types of carrots, one yellow and one red. The red carrot had more bite to it and was a tad sweeter than the former. Next, we had Shirako i.e. blowfish milt which was presented two ways. One was tempura, and the liquid center was quite smooth and delicate. The other was nicely sauced and very tasty. This was followed by a tempura of a type of local winter flower, which lightly battered and had a pleasant bitterness, which I felt was a nice pairing with the classic tempura sauce.
Moving on, we were served sweet scallops with tempura flakes on top. The scallops were incredibly soft and tender, and the flakes added a nice textural contrast to the dish. The next dish was a Kinmedai i.e. Golden eye snapper with rice sauce and vegetables, which was savory and delicious. Then moving back to the tempura dishes, was a crunchy and sweet lotus root. The chef then presented a killer dish of Uni served on top of a tempura Shiso leaf. The sea urchin was incredibly fresh and sweet, and the tempura leaf provided a lovely crunch to the dish. This was followed by slices of red radish and white radish, which were delicate and had some light sweetness. All were very well balanced dishes.
One of the highlights of the meal was a tempura of Anago i.e. sea eel, which had a meaty texture and was perfectly cooked.
A novel tempura dish for me was a lightly battered sweet potato, which was luscious and had a pleasant earthy sweetness. I’m quite amazed on how the chef managed to delicately balanced the tempura crispiness whilst keeping the sweet potato inside perfectly cooked and tender.
To conclude the savoury courses, was a lovely bowl of Kakiage ten don, which was chopped up shrimp and scallop fried with tempura batter, and dressed with a slightly sweet and savory sauce over rice. The tempura batter was a bit thicker but still maintained its crispiness, while the shrimp and scallops were fresh and had a lovely natural sweetness. Now, this was a proper bowl of comfort food that I would happily eat every week.
For the final dessert course, we were served a smooth and sweet custard with a lovely strawberry sauce. Nothing out of this world, but nonetheless a very pleasing dessert.
I must say, the meal here at Tempura Motoyoshi was certainly one of the best experiences I’ve had in the Japan thus far. The tempura dishes were delicate and preserved the freshness and integrity of the ingredients, which is no mean feat. The pace was deliberate and very pleasant for the diner, although perhaps that’s the intention with a limited cover of 8 guests to ensure that each dish is delivered at the required quality. The chef and staff were also very warm and friendly, which is not necessarily the case at every restaurant. My sample size isn’t terribly big, but after trying both Tempura Kondo and Motoyoshi, I must conclude that Motoyoshi edges out the former in terms of the overall dining experience. A blissful, almost perfect meal.
Location: B1F Central Aoyama No.6, 3-2-4 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo. +81-3-3401-0722. Tabelog.