Fresh ingredients superbly deep-fried in crisp batter – what’s not to like about tempura? Tenyu near Kyotoshiyakushomae Station has some of the best in Kyoto. Head over there to have your idea of tempura redefined.
Tenyu – image © Chris Rowthorn
There is tempura, and there is tempura. There’s the palpably greasy stuff rapidly wilting under the bright lights of the supermarket that’s perfect for late-night binges. There are casual giant bowls heaped high with thick, oily, craggy batter. But Tenyu’s tempura is none of those things; it will redefine the way you think about tempura.
Operated by Tawaraya, Kyoto’s finest ryokan, Tenyu is a tempura restaurant that’s a cut above your usual joint. This high-end tempura place won’t come cheap, but it’s not unattainably expensive, especially if you head there for lunch. Midday meals are invariably the better bargain: a full multi-course meal starts at JPY6,000 per person, though if you really want to splash out, there’s a kaiseki tempura course at JPY15,000 a pop.
Ingredients used here are top-notch and even vary according to the season. (Yes, tempura can be seasonal!) Think sea bream wrapped in shiso leaf, deep-fried sweetfish, fava beans, new spring onions, and shrimp legs. For an unusual finish to the meal, try the tencha, a small tempura rice bowl topped with green tea.
If that doesn’t convince you, you’ll just have to order the uni tempura. It’s a real standout – your average tempura restaurant can’t pull this off with the finesse of Tenyu’s chefs. A thin layer of seaweed encases sashimi-grade sea urchin. Plunge this into bubbling oil and remove at just the right moment for crispy batter and seaweed, and perfectly tender and creamy uni. Sea urchin lovers are in for a treat with this piece.
One caveat: Tenyu is the kind of restaurant that practically demands a reservation ahead of time. We wish it weren’t so, but planning ahead in this case is entirely worth the effort.
For more Kyoto tempura choices, see our Best Tempura in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
299 Shimohakusan-cho, Fuyacho-dori-Sanjo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku
Non-smoking area: Completely Non-Smoking
6min walk from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station, Tozai subway line
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability 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 Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world