Deep-fried food often gets a bad rap. But Tokyo gourmands go crazy for tempura, and Kazuhito Motoyoshi’s dexterous, majestic technique demonstrates exactly why. Seating is limited to eight counter stools – snag one and you’ll be able to watch his every delicate, deliberate move up close, soundtracked by the swooshes and fizzles of brief rendezvous between vegetables and a deep-fryer, and the chimes of tongs bouncing off the edge of the pan. It’s all about timing and temperature, Motoyoshi insists, and he urges customers to eat the tempura within seconds of it being served. Unfortunately, this is rather tricky when your natural inclination is to photograph the gorgeous miniature sculptures so their beauty can be preserved for all time on your Instagram feed.
Fight that urge and pop these tempura into your mouth without wasting a second because the food is as good as it looks – feather-light, grease-free, gratifyingly crisp and loaded with natural flavour. The vegetables on offer, which usually include asparagus, aubergines, sweet potatoes and various mushroom varieties, are encased behind glass at the counter so non-Japanese-speaking customers can easily point and choose, and have been sourced by a chef who obsessively tracks down the highest quality ingredients. There are four different set menus (from ¥9,500 to ¥14,900) but whatever you do, don’t miss Motoyoshi’s extraordinary signature dish: fresh sea urchin on a fried shiso leaf.