This tempura restaurant in Kanazawa is in a residential street and indeed is located in a row of regular houses, to the evident bewilderment of our taxi driver. It was awarded a Michelin star in the one-off "special edition" Michelin guide that came out in mid 2016. The head chef is Seijiro Koizumi, who was born in Kobe and trained in the Ginza in Tokyo and in Osaka at the tempura restaurant "Ippou". He worked at the "Main" restaurant in Osaka (which opened in 1850 and has consistently held a Michelin star in recent years). He also had a smaller restaurant nearby near the river Sai (in Saigawa) from 2010 to 2015 before he opened this restaurant in Kanazawa in 2015. There are nine seats arrayed along a wooden counter, in addition to a private dining room.
The meal began with a prettily presented salad of tiny shrimp and squid with radish and a peppery dressing; the main elements of the dish were tender and the dressing was nicely judged (15/20). This was followed by a fried square of nori (seaweed) on which was placed a swirl of uni (sea urchin) topped with freshly grated wasabi. This combination worked very well, the briny uni balanced by the kick of gentle spice from the wasabi (15/20).
The tempura sequence began with a pair of prawns. Some top tempura restaurants use live prawns for unbeatable freshness, but although the ones here were not wriggling about before frying they certainly tasted fresh, and the tempura batter was very delicate. Next was sawara (Spanish mackerel) with a wild mountain vegetable, the dish having very good flavour. The local speciality firefly squid came next, followed by shrimp heads with a different mountain vegetable with no obvious English translation. On this side was a little bowl of pickled tomatoes, beans and excellent pickled onions. This was followed by ayu (sweet fish), whose name is a bit ironic given its somewhat bitter taste, the fish prettily presented upright as if swimming. Next was excellent anago (sea eel) and finally kakiage on rice with soy sauce and pickles. Kakiage is usually the last dish of a tempura sequence, a ball of fried scraps usually involving prawns and vegetables, as here (15/20 average for the tempura sequence). There was also a dessert, a particularly good mango ice cream, which had excellent fruit flavour (16/20).
The bill came to ¥15,300 for two with some beer, which works out at £56 a head. The staff were very friendly, and although English language skills were quite limited here they did their best to make us feel welcome. This was a very enjoyable experience, and the chef clearly knows his tempura.