Funebashiya Honten – Tempura in Tokyo

by Ed Lau on September 25, 2008

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

When you think fried foods, you usually think oily, greasy dishes and on a regular basis, that’s what tempura is. It’s either on plates with sheets of paper soaking through with oil or covered in various sauces, drowning out the natural flavor of the ingredients.

While some less specialized restaurants may simply batter and fry their seafood and vegetables, the chefs at this 100-year old restaurant turns making tempura into an artform. They say that they say that the mark of a truly great tempura chef is the lack of oil on the paper underneath each crispy but light piece.

Funebashiya Honten (3-28-14 Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku, 03-3354-2751) is a tempura restaurant near the Shinjuku JR station, located amongst a maze of various bars and electronics stores hawking the latest mobile phones. There a number of tatami mat seats as well as regular tables but if you want the full experience of eating here, sit at the counter where the chefs will serve you piece by piece fresh out of the fryer.

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

You can order piece by piece or from a variety of set menus. I went with the “B” meal, which seemed to have a variety of what the restaurant had to offer. If your Japanese, like mine, is rather horrible, they do have menus available in English.

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

With your meal, you get a bowl of rice, a miso soup and some pickles along with the usual dipping sauce. I chose to forego the sauce altogether in favor of the various salts so the tempura doesn’t lose any of that great crispiness.

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

The first course is the quintessential tempura, two pieces of ebi.

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

I’m not quite sure what these two types of fish are but they’re moist and flaky despite being deep fried. I’m rather sure the one with the tail is kisu, which I believe is smelt.

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

Ika (squid) can be really tough and chewy when it isn’t fresh and cooked properly but this was tender and delicious. Yes, that paper seems a bit oily but that was the result of everything up to this point. They swapped the oil absorbing sheet after I finished my ika.

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

Next was some veggies. I usually don’t like green beans but bunched together and lightly fried, they’re pretty delicious.

Funebashiya Honten, tempura, Tokyo, Japan

Last, and I’m told most tempura places serve this last as well, is a kakiage, which is basically a jumbled patty full of various ingredients like shrimp.

It was a rather different tempura experience as…usually you don’t eat only tempura. While the tempura is by far the lighest and least oily I’ve ever had, it’s still all fried and you do feel very full after. It’s quite a heavy meal and the “B” menu is quite a good value at 2600Y. My bill, with a couple beers, came to 3500Y. A really good meal but since it’s deep fried, I probably wouldn’t recommend eating at Funebashiya on a regular basis. However, you’re not going to have lighter, less greasy fried food than here.

in Food and Fine Dining,Travel

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael Kwan September 25, 2008 at 10:20 pm

The kakiage looks tasty. Strangely, when I look at these pictures, it doesn’t look all that filling to load up on a few pieces of tempura.

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