Lunch @ Tenzushi Kyomachi 天寿し 京町店 (Fukuoka, Japan)

May 26, 2020 in Japanese

There are a few masters in the Japanese culinary world that I really want to meet. And chef-owner Isao Amano of Tenzushi Kyomachi is one of them.

So while planning my itinerary to travel South for my (2 early) 2019 trips, I thought I should at least try securing myself a seat at head chef Amano san’s sushi counter even though I heard it will be super difficult. And I guess one can say it was with much faith when I decided to use Tableall for the onerous task. Keke. If one has been following my blog long enough, one would know I always relied on Tableall with my harder restaurant reservation.

And so… I sent my request to Tableall in mid October ’18. After exchanging a few emails, Tableall managed to snag a seat for me in early April ’19. Woohoo! And I must be really lucky to book with only 6 months notice because when I was dining at the restaurant (in April), I learnt that they were fully booked for the remaining (8 months) of 2019.

One should also know that while Tenzushi is in Fukuoka Prefecture, the shop isn’t in Fukouka (the capital city of Fukouka Prefecture). Well… Am sharing that cause I didn’t know prior. Sheepish grin.

Now… I used Tableall a few times now, but it was a first when Tableall specifically asked me to be 15 minutes early for my appointment. I would normally reach the restaurant before my reservation time, but that message got me reaching a little way too early. For my 12pm reservation, I reached at 11.20am. Ha. And no surprise that the entrance door was closed and I had nowhere to wander about.

But I was really excited when I finally set foot in the restaurant. To finally be able to dine at Tenzushi, and to be welcomed by head chef Amano san who was smiling so brightly behind the counter. And being the first to arrive, I was given the option to sit in the middle or by the side. Normally, I would be too shy to go for the best seat. But that day… Of the 5 counter seats, I bravely requested for the middle seat. Big grin.

And after everyone arrived and settled down, we commenced our ¥38,000 lunch with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Lean tuna (akami).

2) Dish #2 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro) with salt.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Red squid (aka ika), flying fish roe (tobiko) and multi-coloured sesame seeds (nishiki goma).


4) Dish #4 (above) – Tiger prawn (kuruma ebi). And one’s eyes should never leave this sushi as head chef Amano san place it on the plate because it moves! I wasn’t expecting that because it was not as though he deshelled the prawns when they were still alive. I mean… The prawns were slightly cooked!!! I have no idea how he did it, but it was definitely a first for me. And certainly hoping to have more of these in future! Keke.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Vinegared mackerel (shime saba) with spring onion and kelp.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Penn shell and sea urchin. And for this, it was interesting to watch head chef Amano san cut a slit such that the penn shell opened up like a flap which he put the sushi rice (shari) within.

7) Dish #7 (above)

8) Dish #8 (above) – Flounder (hirame).

9) Dish #9 (above) – Belt fish (tachiuo) with pickled plum sauce (ume).

10) Dish #10 (above) – Tiger prawn (kuruma ebi) head.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Marinated medium fatty tuna (zuke chutoro). And by sheer luck, I was seated beside a famous influential instagrammer. Through him, I got to learn that the fish was marinated in dashi made from tuna flakes instead of the usual bonito stock for enhanced sweetness. And this was so good.

12) Dish #12 (above) – Sillago/Japanese whiting (kisu). And for this, the aftertaste of yuzu pepper continued to linger in my mouth…

13) Dish #13 (above) – Horse mackerel (aji) with powdered soya sauce, ginger and sesame seeds. And for this, I was told the intention of the powdered soya was to allow us to taste the ginger and fish before the soya sauce. Totally brilliant.

14) Dish #14 (above) – Red snapper with its liver.

15) Dish #15 (above) – Whelk and ladyfinger. Now… When head chef Amano san introduced this sushi (as “sazae”), I must have looked really confused. Because honestly, I didn’t quite get it. And he got his staff to bring a book to show me the picture of the ingredient. And I was totally thankful for it because I definitely enjoyed it better when I knew what I was eating. Keke.


16) Dish #16 (above) – Sea urchin from Kyushu.


  

17) Dish #17 (above) – Sea eel (anago). And it’s totally crazy but only females got to enjoy this in 2 different ways. Woohoo!

  

18) Dish #18 (above) – Minced tuna and spring onion (negitoro) with sea grapes. Another highlight piece of my meal. I loved how the sea grapes introduced a acidic fresh crisp kick and a crunch many crunches to the hand roll.

19) Dish #19 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago).

20) Green tea (above)

21) Dish #20 (above) – Musk melon.

Lunch at Tenzushi was simply amazing! Head chef Amano san was very friendly. He could speak pretty good English, and had a good sense of humour too! But what I really liked was how he was always smiling, and how his eyes sparkled as he gazed gently at us. It’s undoubtedly because of him that Tenzushi is a happy sushi place to be at. And I honestly rather be nowhere else.

Head chef Amano san’s sushi was also very different from the Edomae style that I was so accustomed to. Known as Kyushumae sushi (Kyushu style), I noticed he used orange juice instead of the usual soya sauce on quite a number of his sushi pieces. And it’s through blogger eatyourkimchi‘s interview with head chef Amano san that I learnt Kyushu style was about adding more to create new flavours. As opposed to Edomae style which was subtraction. Ie, stripping back to its simplest essence. Did head chef Amano san made his more delicious than the original? One could say his sushi was almost like… A palate cleanser? A very refreshing change. And I liked that.

And I was stoked when he gave us a CD of his recent appearance on NHK (Japan television channel). When my neighbour asked for his signature, I couldn’t help but ask head chef Amano san to autograph mine too. Keke. Such a precious souvenir!

Would I return to Tenzushi? Hell yeah!

TENZUSHI KYOMACHI 天寿し 京町店
3-11-9 Kyomachi, Kokurakita, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan (福岡県 北九州市小倉北区 京町 3-11-9)
+81 93 521 5540, Tablelog
Overall: 9
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 10
Wed – Sun : 12:00 – 15:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 17:30 – 21:00 (Dinner)
Value: 9
Service: 10
* Closed on Mon & Tues