We had a meal today at Ippoh Honten, a famous tempura restaurant in Osaka with a long history. We were impressed with the greeting that we got at the entrance, very considerate service for them to go out of there way to wait for us. Pictured, is the garden that can be seen from the private room. It was during the day, so it was still bright. I imagine that this would make for a wonderful view at night as well.
This is private room that we had our lunch at. Ippoh Honten is a little different from other tempura restaurants and has their counter seating inside of the private room.
This is the tea we were served. It is a tea made of kelp or seaweed.
If you mix the yellow part of the kelp, you get a good “dashi” which is the flavorful part of the kelp and is supposed to stimulate your appetite.
This is the appetizer we were served. It included a very light tasting ponzu sauce, which was also apparently designed to increase your appetite for the meal.
Here the chef is showing us the ingredients to be used in the course before he cooks them.
The ingredients included, shrimp, onions, squid, sand borer (sillago) fish, butterbur scape, maitake mushrooms, Naruto kintoki, sweet potato and cheese.
The next dish served was shrimp head. Usually the texture of shrimp head can be a little unpleasant to chew however in this case, the dish was quite crispy, delicious and smelled great. This is one of the best tempura appetizers that I’ve had.
This is one of the privileges of sitting at the counter. We were very excited for the meal as we were able to get the whole experience of the cooking process, from seeing the food being cooked right before our eyes, to hearing the sounds of the food being deep fried, and the wonderful smells of the ingredients.
The shrimp and butterbur scape.
This is actually the first time that I have personally seen butterbur scape tempura. The flavor of butterbur scape can be bitter. However the chef recommended that I have it with some salt, which actually took away the bitterness and make the dish very tasty. Tempura is very mysterious in that depending on what you season the tempura with, can change the taste entirely.
Here is the shrimp and the shrimp sauce for it. We dipped the shrimp in the sauce before eating it. The whole shrimp was crispy, even the tail, very elegant tasting shrimp.
The sand borer (sillago) fish is usually eaten as tempura at many restaurants, but this was in a completely different dimension.
The meat of the fish was very tender. Usually if fish is very soft, it may be too wet, however in this case the fish was cooked so that the fish retained just the right amount of moisture.
I recommend eating this dish with some salt.
This is to be eaten with the sauce pictured below. The inside is piping hot, therefore you must take some care in eating this.
The texture of it was quite fluffy and chewy.
Onions and Manju
The way the chef cut the onion was a bit unique, but the biggest surprise was the manju tempura which was a first for me.
Usually manju is eaten as a dessert, and is filled with a bean-jam filling such as anko, a red bean paste.
The manju wasn’t oily and had the perfect level of sweetness.
I am sorry actually there was also the maitake mushroom and squid that I enjoyed eating, however I enjoyed these dishes too and I actually forgot to take pictures of them.
This is one of the final dishes, the rice set. This consisted of tempura and rice with tea poured over and some pickled vegetables on the side.
The dessert. A cute little dessert with matcha ice cream inside, red bean paste (anko) and a wafer-like sandwhich called “Monaka” in Japan.
To end the course, we were served some hot tea and offered us to reflect upon the meal we had.
The amount of the food in the meal was just right, not too much and not too little. The dishes tasted wonderful.
Though the restaurant is located in the very convenient location in Umeda, Osaka, entering the restaurant felt as if we were in a completely different atmosphere. Our room that we had the meal was a private room with counter seating, so we were able to enjoy the benefits of having the opportunity to see the performance of the chefs and our meal cooked right before us, yet still have the privacy and comfort that a private room provides. We were able to enjoy our meal so much we completely forgot about the time.
A truly unforgettable meal and definitely recommend trying this restaurant for those visiting Osaka.
Ippoh Honten Restaurant and Reservation