Who doesn’t love crispy battered, deep-fried seafood or vegetables? Though the Portuguese introduced fritter-cooking techniques to Japan in the 16th century, the resulting tempura is today considered a quintessentially Japanese dish, and it’s among some of the most well-loved dishes in the nation’s cuisine.
Mixed tempura donburi (rice bowl). - image © Florentyna Leow
The beauty of tempura is that it’s such a flexible dish. It can be downright cheap and cheerful, eaten at neighbourhood mom n’ pop shops; or it can form an entire multicourse fine dining meal in its own right. If you can believe it, there are over 4000 tempura specialists in Tokyo alone – to say nothing of restaurants that simply include tempura on their menus!
This is a curated list of our favourite tempura spots in Tokyo. These restaurants are generally friendly and approachable, and have English-language menus. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re touristy – all are favourites with local Japanese people too!
- Tsunahachi (Shinjuku; mid-range)
If you don’t mind queuing a little for a good and reasonably-priced meal, head over to tempura stalwart Tsunahachi in Shinjuku.
- Funabashiya Honten (Shinjuku; mid-range)
A short walk from Shinjuku Station takes you to Funabashiya, which is the place to go for elegant, tasty tempura set meals.
- Tenkuni (Shinjuku; mid-range)
For fans of tempura fritters, Tenkuni in Shinjuku’s Takashimaya Times Square is another great choice when dining out in the area.
- Tempura Daikokuya (Asakusa; mid-range)
Tempura Daikokuya is a beloved tempura restaurant located a stone’s throw from the iconic Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. Make sure you arrive early or risk queuing for up to an hour.
- Tenichi Ginza Honten (Ginza; expensive)
Tenichi in Ginza is a fantastic if slightly expensive restaurant for tempura. Given that people like Frank Sinatra and Gorbachev have eaten here, however, the price tag is probably worth it.
- Tempura Mochiku (Ginza; mid-range)
Mochiku is an intimate, counter seating-only tempura restaurant in a quiet part of Ginza. The food? Delicious and unpretentious, if slightly unorthodox for tempura.
- Tentou (Asakusa; mid-range)
Tentou’s tempura rice bowl is hearty enough to power you through a full afternoon of sightseeing in Asakusa – so long as you don’t mind the smell of frying oil clinging to you afterwards.
- Kaneko Hannosuke (Nihonbashi; budget)
Who knew a tempura restaurant could inspire waits up to 3 hours long? But that’s just testament to how good the food is at Kaneko Hannosuke in Nihonbashi. If you’re keen on some great tempura and have time to spare, you should go. Just get there as early as possible.
- Tempura Kurokawa (Tsukiji; budget)
For honest, fresh, fabulous tempura bowls at bargain prices, try Tempura Kurokawa in Tsukiji’s Outer Market. A handful of deep-fried scallop and prawns at just JPY1500? Yes, please!
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Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- Get essential travel insurance for Tokyo – World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)