Like most of Japan’s iconic cuisines (sushi, ramen, etc), tempura started off as a humble street food served out of a yatai (mobile cart). Through the years, it has evolved into a fine cuisine, a transformation that’s evident at Ginza Tenkuni in the glitzy St Regis Kuala Lumpur hotel.
In operation since 1885, Ginza Tenkuni is widely regarded as the veterans of Edo-style tempura in Tokyo, and this KL offshoot is their first venture outside Japan. They are known for two things: their own blend of cooking oil and tentsuyu dipping sauce.
The frying oil is a proprietary mix of corn and sesame oils, and the kitchen uses a fresh batch every day. The quality of the light and fragrant oil is palpable in the tempura pieces which barely stain the blotting paper they rest on. Coupled with the skills of chef Kenichi Ishikawa who adjusts the consistency of the batter according to the ingredient, you’ll realise that tempura isn’t just any fried food. Sure, a thin batter coats the ingredient to aid cooking and also for that signature crisp finish, but the point is to highlight the quality and the freshness of the produce, be it fish, prawn or mushroom. And that’s what you’re having – pure, unadulterated flavours. As such, the restaurant even goes to the extent of importing all the ingredients (even the vegetables) from Tokyo three times a week.
At Ginza Tenkuni you need to forget about the common tendon (tempura on rice with a sweet soy sauce) prevalent in the city; this is fine dining tempura, so to speak, with a price point to match. Your tempura is served to you progressively piece by piece as it’s cooked, and you’ll be presented with three dips, each bringing out a different taste profile from the tempura pieces. The fine Japanese sea salt is perfect in highlighting the natural sweetness of the seafood; the lemon juice adds brightness; and the restaurant’s tentsuyu dipping sauce is rich in umami yet doesn’t overwhelm the delicate taste of the seafood.
In line with fine Japanese cuisine, the menu at Ginza Tenkuni is all about seasonal eating; it’s a showcase of the best and freshest ingredients of the moment in Japan. You have a choice of ordering the omakase menu (from RM190) or go à la carte – but make sure you have the sweet potato satsumaimo. This thrice-cooked sweet potato tempura takes up to two hours to prepare, transforming the outer layer of the potato into a richly caramelised chewy skin while the inside remains hot, soft and creamy.
The best seat in the house is at the 12-seat counter where you get to watch the chef in action; he’s unusually calm, almost meditative as he works. (Fun fact: the counter is made from a single block of 300-year-old Hinoki wood, known for its fine cypress fragrance and antibacterial quality.) For larger parties, there are private rooms as well as VIP rooms that come with attached kitchens. Rest assured that Ginza Tenkuni has invested in industrial-level ventilation system, so you won’t smell like you’ve been steeping in oil by the end of your meal.
|Venue name:||Ginza Tenkuni||Contact:|
The St Regis Kuala Lumpur
6 Jalan Stesen Sentral 2
Kuala Lumpur Sentral
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun, 12noon-2.30pm; 6.30pm-12midnight|