Tempura has been a popular source of nourishment in Tokyo since the 17th century. At Tempura Tenko, international visitors can take a genuine masterclass with head chef and owner Hitoshi Arai, covering everything from browsing a wholesale market to frying the tempura with his proprietary blend of oils.
Tempura originated in Edo (now Tokyo) in the 17th century and the nutrition provided by the vitamin-rich sesame oil and protein-rich seafood made tempura a popular energy source for people in Edo. There are currently two types of tempura: Edomae tempura (Tokyo style) and Osaka style. Rapeseed and sunflower oil are used in Osaka, while sesame oil is used in Tokyo which gives the tempura its distinctive aromatic and crisp texture.
Tenko is a renowned restaurant in Kagurazaka where you can enjoy Edomae tempura. Its chef/owner, Mr. Hitoshi Arai, was invited to be a guest chef at the 2015 Expo in Milan and for a banquet held for Prime Minister Abe during an official visit to France. Some Hollywood stars are fans and come to the restaurant incognito. Mr. Arai, the second-generation owner of Tenko says, "Since everyone can get fresh ingredients in Tokyo now, the quality and blend of oils are what really determines the taste of tempura." Tenko uses only the highest quality oils, making its own blend from several different sesame oils. This gives Tenko's tempura a unique aroma and light texture. "My father would not be happy because I sometimes teach the oil blends which are passed down secretly from generation to generation," he laughed. Mr. Arai gives lectures about tempura making in his private courses for tourists and foreign chefs. "But I'm sure the attendees will come to realize just how difficult it is to recreate the tempura that was made for them."
His courses begin with a visit to a great wholesale market in Tokyo, and participants get special admission to the professional procurement area where he gets his ingredients every day. You can see the unique work of the professionals at this market to keep the fish in as close to a living state as possible for a long time. This technique allows the market to sell high quality and reliable seafood. When you return to the restaurant, you will learn how to make tempura. At the end of the private course, you will be able to enjoy a superb tempura meal made by Mr. Arai.
You will be in a private room seated at a counter where you will be able to enjoy talking with the chef while he demonstrates his skills. Says Mr. Arai, "Sushi became popular around the world and you are now able to eat delicious sushi outside of Japan. On the other hand, there are few places overseas where you can eat delicious tempura. I would like people around the world to know more about truly delicious tempura."