2-21-10 Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

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This little tempura restaurant is run by Hiroyoshi Hatanaka, who trained in Nihonbashi's Ten Shige and wears a trademark bow tie. In summertime the aubergine tempura is sourced from his hometown of Ehime and is noted for its sweetness. Between October and April the oyster tempura is a speciality. The stone wall in the dining room was imported from Italy and uses 200-300 year old tiles. 

The restaurant opened in 1997, set on a quiet street on the edge of Roppongi. Ten seats are arrayed around a counter, plus a single table. The chef/owner prepares live prawns moments before they are to be fried. An appetiser of cooked potato and an unidentified white fish in a clear broth was pleasant enough, the fish good though the potato a touch soggy (14/20).

We were on firmer ground when the tempura sequence began. Prawn legs first, then the sweet, tender prawns themselves, in a gossamer light batter (17/20). Fine beans are excellent, followed by asparagus, the different pieces of asparagus cooked alternately in a very thin, then thicker batter (16/20). Whiting (kiss fish in Japan) was seasonal and had lovely flavour (16/20), followed by a stunningly good aubergine tempura. I have never eaten aubergine as good as this, served with a sweet soy sauce (18/20).  This was followed by a large, sweet and beautifully tender scallop coated in tempura batter (18/20). Lotus root was fine (15/20) followed by excellent anago (sea eel). Okra was also very impressive indeed (17/20), the sequence completed with lovely kakiage, a mix of tiny scallops and prawns fried together (17/20).

Service was good, though the chef himself was courteous rather than friendly, though he spoke reasonable English. I noticed that he also interacted little with the Japanese customers either, so perhaps he is just a little shy by nature. His cooking was impressive though, the standard of ingredients here very high indeed, in particular the scallops, aubergine and okra. The bill came to ¥19,950 with plenty of beer to drink, which works out at £60 a head, which seems to me a bargain given the high standard of food, which was between 16/20 and 17/20 level.

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