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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

TEN-ICHI
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN

During our initial review of this restaurant we expressed disappointment in the food.  In fact I wrote that it was the worst tempura that I had ever had anywhere in the world.  What I didn't know then was that the restaurant features several different kinds of tempuras.  Also, I didn't know at the time that in addition to the light, crispy tempura we all know and love, you can also order it with a sauce which obviously turns the fish and veggies less than crisp.  That's what I unknowingly ordered not being able to decipher the Japanese menu.

I'd like to sincerely thank Michelle Plourde, a granddaughter of the founder of this world famous chain for e-mailing me to straighten me out.  She accurately pointed out that what I ordered that day was supposed to be less than crisp because of the sauce.  I thought I was ordering the crisp stuff but was not.  I actually ordered something called tendon by mistake. To read Michelle's enlightening e-mail on the restaurant, click here.

Ten-ichi was recommended to us as the most famous restaurant in Japan for tempura so naturally we wanted to give it a shot.  In fact, Ten-ichi is credited with introducing tempura to the world. 

There are more than one Ten-ichi restaurants and we decided to try the one located in the gigantic Sogo Department Store in
Yokohama.

 .
Entrance to Sogo

Sogo features a number of Japan's top restaurants on the 10th floor of this massive store.  And it's right next to the train station.

Before you even enter Ten-ichi, you're tempted with a display of the various tempura dishes they offer done up in plastic and featured in the windows of the restaurant.

The woman who greeted us at the door spoke no English but was extremely friendly as she guided us to our table.  Our server was quick to bring some green tea.  She spoke only Japanese as well but couldn't have been any nicer.  And by the way, we certainly don't expect others to speak "our" language in their country!  Not being able to decipher a thing on the menu, I muttered the word "tempura" and our kind server, in Japanese, gave me several options gesturing to the menu.  Figuring I'd get some sort of tempura I just pointed at one of the selections and waited to see what would come to the table!

Sure enough it was tempura.  My carefully and expertly selected meal (!!!!) consisted of a medium bowl of rice with two different kinds of shrimp, a piece of fish, chunk of eel and some sort of slipper lobster piled on top of the rice.  And it came with some asparagus, too.

When I grabbed the first shrimp with my chop sticks I was very disappointed.  The food was anything but crisp.  It was like a limp noodle. It was covered by something dark brown, something I thought was grease.  But it was actually a sauce.  A bowl of dipping sauce was also included which was really quite tasty.  But it was a world away from that crispy delight I had been anticipating.

The restaurant had a nice, casual, intimate feel about it and as I said the staff was beyond cordial.  When we went to pay the cashier she bowed several times as we left and I would assume thanked us in Japanese.

Suggestion.  Do make it to Sogo in Yokohama.  It's a fabulous experience including an unbelievable food court in one of the sub-basement floors.  Then head up to the 10th floor where there are many restaurants to choose from.  Make your selection Ten-ichi.  But before you go, have somebody counsel you on what to order if you want that crispy, light "to die for" meal that you've been anticipating.

And again, thanks to Michelle Plourde who e-mailed me to straighten me out.  That's one really neat thing about traveling.  You really learn a lot although sometimes the hard way!  I'd like to quote her close to the e-mail:

"The fact that Ten-ichi has been serving tempura to kings, queens, presidents (at least four U.S. ones included), and celebrities for 72 years attests to it's leadership in quality tempura."

She forgot one slight thing.  In addition to serving all those VIPs, the restaurant also served one idiot--me!

Additional Japanese Restaurant Review:

Hard Rock Cafe - Tokyo

 

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