All tagged white radish


It wasn't until I visited Japan that I truly liked tempura. Outside of Japan, tempura batter is thick and greasy -- often soggy and wet -- making this deep-fried food taste more like sloppy, oily leftovers. I can't begin to count the number of times I've tasted shrimp tempura and had the plump tempura shell separate from the shellfish, or a piece of broccoli tempura that oozes fat like a sponge wringing out water. Most of the time, especially in the US, tempura is fried food gone very wrong.

At Ten-ichi, tempura is light and fluffy. Each piece of fish or vegetable is individually flash-fried at such a high temperature that the oil barely has little chance to penetrate the food. The batter is thin and weightless, completely integrating with the food: it would be nearly impossible to separate it.


Traditional amber wood and handmade pottery carried by waitresses in kimonos contrast against floor-to-ceiling windows and granite slabs overlooking one of the most impressive restaurant views in the city. Such an explicit juxtaposition of the traditional with the modern -- two concepts whose constant interplay largely defines Japanese culture -- contributes to Kozue's uniqueness. The dishes themselves are very traditional in flavor -- there are no "twists" -- but their presentation and the finesse with which the waitresses explain their components make this type of cuisine extremely accessible to westerners. The views from the restaurant are phenomenal. Perched on the 40th floor of the Park Hyatt, Kozue faces west. On a clear day one can see as far as Mount Fuji. The restaurant's policy is not to guarantee window tables -- even for hotel guests -- but I think it's worth waiting around for the next window table to become available.


It's easy to walk down the quiet residential streets of Jingu-mae and miss this restaurant: it's in the basement of an apartment building with no signage. But what Esaki lacks in street-level visibility it makes up for in flavor. It's modern take on traditional kaiseki -- with all locally sourced organic ingredients -- highlights the best of Japanese cuisine yet incorporates a number of modern twists that make for a more interesting, fresh experience. The menu, full of kanji beyond my understanding, proved challenging -- the waitress patiently helped me to decipher the words I didn't know, and even brought paper and pen to take notes. At this 3-starred Michelin restaurant, things suddenly felt a lot more relaxed and comfortable.