Takasebune is a little tempura restaurant tucked away in a side street near the main Kyoto food market. It has been trading for over thirty years, and has a small counter that seats just five people, though there are also private rooms at the back and upstairs available for more formal meals. At lunch you can eat a meal for as little as ¥800, though we opted for a ¥2,000 yen menu that included fish, as well as prawns and assorted vegetables (lotus root, aubergine, green peppers, mushrooms, and also ginger stems).
The chef prepares the tempura mix fresh in front of each diner, dipping the tangibly fresh ingredients into the sizzling oil after dipping in the tempura batter. The batter was light and not greasy, the ingredients good, and even the minor elements such as the ginger stem had excellent flavour (14/20 for the tempura). For me the best dish of all was the miso soup, which was unusually rich and had a lovely full flavour (easily 15/20).
The chef owner, Hideo Okajima, has stepped into his father's shoes, and sources the fish and seafood from the Torizan fish market; indeed the family traded as fishmongers prior to setting up the restaurant. The current chef's grandfather was a boatman (long boats used to traverse the Nary canal ferrying rice, salt, charcoal and other essentials), and there is a model boat in the dining room as a reminder of this heritage.
This was a simple, moderately priced restaurant, and yet I enjoyed it as much as some of the far more elaborate meals at ten times the price that I tried in Kyoto. Our waitress was charming, the chef clearly relished his work, and the overall effect was lovely. The bill for two was ¥5,500 (£20 a head).
Further reviews: 24th Apr 2016