Kondo is a specialist tempura restaurant, was awarded two Michelin stars in the 2009 guide. Fumio Kondo is the head chef and owner and, as so often happens in Japan, cooked the dishes for us himself in front of us. The restaurant is on the 9th floor of an office building in the Ginza. There are two dining rooms, with fifteen seats arrayed around a counter in the room that we were in. On the counter in front of me was a box containing prawns that had been peeled, yet were so fresh that they were still twitching.
The meal began with a little shrimp with its legs still attached, fried whole, a slightly crunchy texture but the shrimp having lovely flavour (18/20). Asparagus was next, of very good quality if not quite to the level of the very best that I have eaten (18/20). Similarly, the bamboo shoot was good but again not the best that I had eaten in the past fortnight in Japan (17/20). A white fish that seemingly has no English translation was lovely, with palpably fresh flavour (18/20). Following this was a mountain herb called bitter wort, which was just that (15/20). Shillago, another white fish, again had very good flavour (17/20). After this was a deep-fried onion, which was quite sweet but was not quite cooked through in the middle (14/20). Sea eel was carefully cooked and had lovely flavour (18/20).
One specialty of the house which was not on the set menu was tempura of julienne carrots, and we ordered this as an extra dish. It was impressive watching the chefs prepare the carrots, using a huge knife with great delicacy to first peel a carrot into a single very thin sheet, all in one piece, then to slice it into the finest julienne I have ever seen. The resulting carrots strips were then mixed with a little batter and fried for thirty seconds. The finished product was a little ball of carrot filaments, light and lovely to eat; it takes a skilled chef to make a humble carrot into something genuinely exciting (18/20).
The meal concluded with three slices of orange. In the UK fruit at the end of a Japanese meal is usually an afterthought, but these orange slices, with the pips already removed, were in perfect condition, literally the best oranges I have ever tasted. It was nice to see such attention to detail. Service was very attentive, with waiters unobtrusively topping up water and beer as needed. The set menu at lunch was ¥6,300, but bear in mind that it is costlier in the evenings. Our bill came to ¥15,540 for two with a beer apiece i.e. £60 a head. This was excellent tempura, some of the best I have eaten. The batter was light and delicate (though not quite as much as at Nanachome Kyoboshi) and the ingredient quality high.