Tetsuya Saotome has been crafting tempura in Tokyo for more than 30 years, preserving this tradition for a new generation. His restaurant, Mikawa Zezankyo is tucked into a maze of residential streets not far from the Sumida River in eastern Tokyo. The dining room is just ten seats around a counter—cozy and inviting, with the bonus of turning tempura preparation into a spectacle. Upstairs are private rooms for couples or groups, with "tatami" floors, pieces of art and sliding doors.
Chef Saotome’s tempura is as it should be: crispy, not oily, and with just the right amount of coating. The fish is straight from the sea and complemented by a seasonal rotation of vegetables grown or foraged. The menu is "omakase": the chef will prepare a multi-course menu based on what is fresh and in season. The crisp tempura pairs well with Japanese beer or sake, served in clay cups crafted by local potters and each as unique as the restaurant itself.