天ぷら 深町 Tempura Fukamachi (1 Michelin star)
Add: 2-5-2 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 東京都 中央区 京橋 2-5-2 A·M京橋ビル 1/F
Tel: +81 (0)3 5250 8777 (reservation highly recommended)
Hours: closed Mon, 1st & 3rd Sun of the month; [lunch] 12:00pm-2:30pm; [dinner] 5:00pm-8:30pm (last order)
Price: [lunch] JPY2,800/7,000/9,000; [dinner] JPY15,000+ (+8% tax and 10% service charge)
Visited: September 2016
Will return: Yes
Tucked away in a quiet alley in the busy Ginza area, Tempura Fukamachi is a tempura restaurant with one Michelin star and a 4.29 rating on Tabelog, ranking even higher than the famous Mikawa Zezankyo (みかわ 是山居) and the two-star Tempura Kondo (天ぷら 近藤). I was able to secure a seat in the fully-packed dining room for lunch on a Saturday.
For lunch, Fukamachi offers four menus: ten-don (2,800), vegetable tempura omakase (7,000), and seafood and vegetable omakase with white rice (7,000) or with a small ten-don or ten-cha (9,000). I went with the last one, which includes two prawns, three kinds of fish, and five vegetables.
First came two pieces of Prawn Head, strikingly crunchy and deep in mineral flavors. The Prawns that followed, just slightly transparent in the center, were incredibly sweet, tender, and succulent.
Chef Fukamachi is known for his exceptional skill in vegetable tempuras, and it shows in the next two pieces. The fleshy Shishito Pepper tasted like it was very happy to be there, whereas the Ginkgo Nuts, enveloped in a tender sheath of batter, were fresh and chewy, with subtle notes of nuttiness and bitterness.
The Kisu was a highlight of the meal – moist, flaky, and full of umami.
Uni tempura is a must-order at any high-end tempura restaurant. Fukamachi’s Uni Tempura (à-la-carte, 2,000 yen) was very large, with about 8 fillets gently wrapped in a shiso leaf.
Uni wrapped in shiso
While the shiso was fried to a generous crunch, the uni inside was barely warm, retaining its texture and freshness. The sweet uni, spun through with the soft, leafy breath of shiso, was so much better than the slightly mushy one I had at Ginza Onodera in Shanghai.
Uni wrapped in shiso
In another testament to Chef Fukamachi’s skill with vegetable tempuras, the Shiitake was meaty, juicy, and deeply flavorful. The huge Scallop was strikingly tender, brimming with a sweetness that lingered on and on.
The crunchy Lotus Root was sweet and full of flavor, while the Asparagus was incredibly fragrant and juicy.
One of the best gifts of summer, two hulking, steaming pieces of Anago were fried to a melting tenderness, the creamy texture highlighting its fattiness and umami. Certainly the best anago I had during my Tokyo trip.
Anago (sea eel)
For the rice course, Fukamachi offers ten-don (seafood tempura cake and sauce over white rice) and ten-cha (seafood tempura cake over rice in Japanese tea). I’ve heard great things about their Ten-Cha, so that’s what I chose.
The tempura cake, made with shrimps and scallops, was full of umami, but the star of the dish was the tea base, which absorbed all the umami from the tempura cake. Fukamachi uses green tea rather than baked tea, giving the dish a more elegant fragrance.
Ending with a refreshing Lychee Sorbet, which was impressively smooth and fragrant.
Fukamachi is one of the most un-photogenic restaurants I’ve ever been to – most high-end tempura restaurants have the good sense to serve their tempuras on a sheet of white paper. But happily, what Fukamachi lacks in aesthetics, it makes up in spades in flavor.