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Why Tsunahachi is special ?
Many find a tempura meal in Japan eye-opening; the quality is head and shoulders above what you'll get at most restaurants in America. You can pay a lot for high-end tempura, but Tsunahachi offers a reasonably priced and delicious introduction to this golden meal, and they've been doing it for over 90 years.
Expect a line, especially at prime meal hours, and go for lunch for the best deal. You can get a basic tempura set lunch for 1,200 yen (about $12), but for 2,100 yen (about $21) you can upgrade to the chef-recommended Tempura Zen set that includes a few additional pieces of tempura, including melt-in-your-mouth anago (sea eel) which is especially good during the late spring and early summer season.
All sets comes with an assortment of tempura: ebi (shrimp), white fish, vegetables, and kakiage (a fried "cake" of shrimp and vegetables combined together).
Rice and clam miso soup round out the meal. There's an English menu as well as an instructional page with diagrams to show how to eat the tempura.
You can mix grated daikon into tsuyu as a dipping sauce, play with the three colorful dipping salts: traditional sea salt (white), wasabi salt (green), and yukari (shiso) salt (purple). Despite the deep-frying, the tempura is rather light and remarkably greaseless.
- Top quality lunch, recommended
- Wonderful tempura
- Fresh, light, perfect tempura
- Found vegatarian tempura in Shinjuku
- Nice dinner with friends
- Noise level Normal
- Budget Medium
- Alcohol NO
- Air condition YES
- Had kid menu NO
- Accept credit card YES
- Serve breakfast NO
- Serve halal NO
- Serve vegeterian YES
Japan, 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 新宿３丁目３１−８
Tips for you
The Portuguese may have introduced tempura to Japan, but the Japanese have elevated it to a delicacy; not the cold, greasy pieces of rubber you sometimes find yourself chewing on in the West. Tsunahachi is a chain, with the main restaurant in Shinjuku. The wooden exterior and interior gives it an old-world charm completely out of place in Shinjuku. Using fresh seasonal ingredients, it offers a la carte lunch and dinner, but the real value are the lunch sets starting at 1,800 Yen. Seating is either bar style, at the chef's counter, or at communal tables in little rooms. I recommend sitting at the counter as you have a great view of the chef at work. Side note: after watching one of the sous-chefs cut, clean and slice white fish for an hour, I felt much better about my job. I mean, that was his entire job - fish after fish, slice after slice (though I must admit, he was damn good at it!). The restaurant is pretty big, and seats around 120. That means the queue outside (and there seems to always be a queue outside) moves quickly, unlike that at a certain Michelin star restaurant nearby. The queue starts just before the restaurant opens for lunch at 1100. I chose the chef recommended Zen set for 2,300 Yen, which included two big prawns, sea eel, white fish, vegetables, and a fritter of prawns and mixed vegetables. There is a cheaper set for 1,800 Yen, and more expensive sets with more tempura pieces. The lunch sets come with rice, clam miso soup, green vegetable pickle, and daikon (to be mixed with the dipping sauce). I also had green tea (which was refilled). Another side note: the elderly lady serving me brought me a cold vegetable soup (like gazpacho) in a shot glass. I'm not sure if that was part of the lunch set, but she was so cute I wanted to hug her - although I wisely decided that might be a step too far!! Tempura is traditionally eaten with matcha (green tea) salt, although Tsunahachi had plain sea salt, wasabi salt, and a purple coloured salt that I couldn't figure out. I sat in anticipation at the counter as the chef selected each piece, battered it, fried it, and then placed it on a piece of tempura paper in front of me to enjoy. Showmanship at its best! The batter was light & crunchy, and the tempura didn't feel oily. Each piece was perfectly cooked just so. While lunch didn't feel rushed, I didn't want to stay for very long, knowing people were waiting outside. For 2,300 Yen (plus tax of 1,484 Yen), the Zen lunch set was really good value. I recommend going for lunch and having the lunch set, as dinner and a la carte prices can be quite steep. Visited March 2016 https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g1066457-d1660271-r360239223-Shinjuku_Tsunahachi_So_honten-Shinjuku_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html#
Our first lunch of the trip and we loved it, despite the overwhelming tiredness post flight from London. It was a Thursday lunchtime and busy, so we had a 15 minute wait - we were the only foreigners in the restaurant. We were 5 so the counter wasn't an option (would recommend) so we were in the dining room, which was a little quieter. Excellent service as one comes to expect in Japan, and an English menu helped in the absence of any spoken English. The food was fantastic, including great tempura, but actually the highlight was their sashimi, especially the various tuna. Incredible, and probably the best we had on the trip. Highly recommended. https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g1066457-d1660271-r356720710-Shinjuku_Tsunahachi_So_honten-Shinjuku_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html#
Having had one of the best tempura meals I had in Osaka, I made a point that another tempura meal in Japan is a must. Between 新宿つな八天婦羅 and the one opposite of this joint 船穚屋, I decided on つな八. Though it didn't disappoint, the one in Osaka still surpassed つな八. I decided on the Sazanami 3400 yen lunch set. The difference between this set and the next most expensive one is just two seafood Vs one seafood but the cost difference was about 1200 yen so I opted for the 3400 yen set instead. It's roughly $32USD. Considered it as a lunch set, it was indeed quite expensive but it's still worth the price since you will get some really fresh ingredients and they all made to order. I had a second bowl of rice at no upcharge.