Lunch @ Mikawa Zezankyo みかわ 是山居 (Tokyo, Japan)

August 24, 2017 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Now that I booked my next trip to Tokyo, I figured I had better finish the backlog of my Tokyo restaurants’ reviews. And yes! Tokyo again. Woohoo.

So when I was doing the planning for (my past trips to) Tokyo, Tempura Fukamachi, Tempura Motoyoshi and Mikawa Zezankyo topped my tempura-places-to-try list. I was really keen in dining at Mikawa Zezankyo where chef-owner Tetsuya Saotome was said to be the equivalent of sushi master Jiro Ono.

And it was in my November 2016 trip that I successfully lunched at Mikawa Zezankyo. What I really liked about Mikawa Zezankyo was how straight-forward reservation was. Something that’s particularly crucial for us tourists. I made mine on OpenTable, a free online restaurant-reservation service provider.

I read that head chef Saotome san’s talent extend beyond tempura making. He’s also skillful in artworks which is demonstrated by the hand paintings and calligraphy of the menu that’s drawn and written by him. Artistic aesthetics combined with culinary skills? I was confident lunch was going to be an unforgettable dining experience.

It was fortunate I reached (5 minutes) early to be seated on the shorter end of the L-shaped counter where I had a non-obstructed view of the stove. Yes, one is seated in accordance to one’s arrival. So be the first 3 customers to arrive in order to personally enjoy watching head chef Saotome san in action!

And between the lunch (‎¥11,340) and omakase (‎¥18,360) courses, I decided to go with the latter. And with that, I commenced my lunch with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Appetiser.

2) Dish #2 (above) – I was served with 2 (and not 1) prawns. I didn’t think of taking picture of my second prawn because it looked the same. In fact, prior to my visit, I was at Yuzu Japanese Restaurant. And when I shared about my (then upcoming) lunch reservation at Mikawa Zezankyo, head chef Takahashi Tadashi piqued my interest when he gushed about how every prawn was consistently fried with a raw centre. And indeed, my prawns were.

3) Dish #3 (above) – 2 number of prawns heads. The heads were noticeably bigger, and generously coated with batter. And because of that, these were crunchy (rather than crispy).

4) Dish #4 (above) – Japanese whiting (kisu).

5) Dish #5 (above) – Squid (ika). For me, the dining experience become more meaningful when I get to watch the process; I watched head chef Saotome san dredge the squid (in dry flour) and dip into a wet batter before deep frying the squid strips.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Soup with shrimp ball.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Again, I watched (with much curiosity) as head chef Saotome san dipped the sea urchin that’s wrapped with shiso leaf into a wet flour-mixture before frying it. And for this, I was told to enjoy it with salt.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Gingko nut.

9) Dish #9 (above) – Milt (kikuko). Be careful when eating this cause it’s very hot. But this was so enjoyable. Oh so creamy!

At this point, head chef Saotome san replaced his stove with new oil while the staff went round asking us for our 2 choices for the vegetables. We were offered 5 options; Asparagus, sweet potato, shiitake mushroom, green pepper and egg plant.

10) Dish #10 (above) – Flathead (megochi).

11) Dish #11 (above) – Saltwater eel (anago). After the long piece of eel tempura was placed onto my plate, head chef Saotome san continued to use the same pair of long chopsticks to cut it into 2. With an amazing loud crackling sound. Yum!

12) Dish #12 (above) – Asparagus.

13) Dish #13 (above) – Sweet potato.


14) Dish #14 (above) – For main, I went with tencha instead of tendon as recommended by the staff. And to prepare the kakiage tempura, surf clams (kobashira) adductor muscles were mixed into the wet batter with egg. Although head chef Saotome san added flour to adjust the consistency before frying these. And I enjoyed my tencha. The kakiage tempura still had a slight crunch despite soaking up the dashi.

15) Dish #15 (above) – Beans.

Compared to other tempura restaurants, head chef Saotome san practised a more old-school edomae tempura style. Instead of light and crisp tempura batter, the ones at Mikawa Zezankyo was heavier and harder. Yes, hard and crunchy. But not to be confused as being thick.

And to wrap up my wonderful dining experience at Mikawa Zezankyo, head chef Saotome san surprised us by autographing our menus. Starting from one end, he asked the first female customer for her menu to draw a prawn (calligraphy style) and to autograph it with his stamp seal. And he had a good sense of humour; As he was moving down the counter, a male customer tried handing his menu which head chef Saotome san humorously replied “Ladies only.” Haha. Too cute. And for the record, the guy got his autograph after head chef Saotome san finished signing all the female customers’ menus. Keke.

Would I recommend Mikawa Zezankyo? I would. I mean… Although his style was not what I preferred for my tempura, one should at least try the tempura prepared and fried with the hands of legendary master chef Tetsuya Saotome once in one’s life. I know, I sound kinda shallow there. But it’s a real plus that it’s a breeze to make reservation at Mikawa Zezankyo too.

1-3-1 Fukuzumi Koto, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 江東区 福住 1-3-1)
+81 03 3643 8383, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Thu – Tues : 11:30 – 13:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Thu – Tues : 17:00 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Wed