Tempura at Shunsaiten Tsuchiya, Osaka

Address: 41–4 Toyotsucho, Suita, Osaka

The rainy day didn’t dampen our appetites and we were well and truly ready to experience an iconic Japanese meal that isn’t Sushi or Kaiseki. Tempura!

The helpful concierge at Westin Osaka managed to score us a booking at Shunsaiten Tsuchiya, a tempura restaurant that has 2 Michelin Stars to its name.

Like Harasho, Shunsaiten Tsuchiya was located in a quiet suburb on the outskirts of Osaka. The restaurant is inside a nice looking house that also has a great garden.

This is Yukihiko Tsuchisaka, the head chef. We managed to get seats at the counter which was great as it meant quick service and we get to see the chef at work.

Dinner at Shunsaiten Tsuchiya was an interesting affair. Unlike the other restaurants we’ve been to so far, the chef and none of the waitresses were able to speak much English.

There were no English descriptions so we were essentially dining blind but we decided to just go with it. Excuse us if details are scant or inaccurate as we tried our best to take notes of what we ate!

The dinner started off very reminiscent of kaiseki with some non-tempura starters. The amuse bouche was some scallop dish.

Up next was a familiar one, the tsukuri that consisted of sashimi staples such as lean tuna, squid, and sea bream. There was also a little bowl of cuttlefish tentacles which had a very fascinating texture. It was like slurping wiggly worms!

This was a really interesting dish, smoked bamboo shoots which was presented immaculately. Unlike other places, I really liked that we actually got the entire cross section of a bamboo shoot, instead of just the soft parts.

Before we got to the tempura dishes, we got another familiar face, the Hassun that had a variety of seasonal dishes. There was a terrine dish, scallops, a jelly thing, crab meat and some other random bits of food we couldn’t identify.

With the starters out of the way, we were prepared for our upcoming tempura onslaught. Shunsaiten Tsuchiya is known for his selection of 3 different kinds of salt. We got some regular white salt, a coarser and darker variety and pink Himalayan salt which was our favourite.

First up were whole prawns. The tempura batter was simply perfect, light enough to give it a satisfying crunch but doesn’t detract from the core ingredient.

The prawn heads were fried completely that it could be eaten, but had a very strong bitter taste.

Can’t quite remember what this was. I think it was some sort of Octopus.

This was the squid.

Next up was a humongous giant scallop which was really plump and juicy.

Lotus root! It was unexpectedly crunchy!

An amazingly huge chunk of crab meat, think it was from the pincer or arm. The meat was really sweet and delicious. This is probably the best crab we ate in Japan.

I’m not a fan of Asparagus but I happily gobbled these asparagus Spears down. The batter was just applied perfectly, you can really see the chef’s skill at work in this photo.

I was most excited about this dish, and was delighted when it was presented on our plates. It’s a sweetfish, a small Freshwater fish that’s fried and presented in spectacular fashion.

Seriously, my mind is still blown by how Yukihiko Tsuchisaka managed to freeze the Sweetfish using tempura batter and make it look like it’s still swimming.

In terms of taste, it was quite interesting, it had a very strong fishy and muddy taste to it. I liked it but I don’t think Anne quite appreciated it.

This was crazy good, a tempura rice ball.

Next was tempura abalone served with sauce that I’m guessing is made from its liver. Also really good. Generally in Japan, we were stoked everytime we got to try abalone.

This was another crazy good dish and one of the standout of the night. Tempura beef with mustard seeds on it. The beef was tender and seared flawlessly. Never had tempura red meat before, so this was a really cool experience.

The final tempura dish was a classic fixture, sweet potato.

We ended in traditional Japanese fashion, rice with grilled kinmedai (golden eye snapper), miso soup and tea. Also included were pickles which were an indication that this was the final dinner dish.

Totally forgot what this was. It was quite sweet and I remember that I liked it!

After all the piping hot tempura meals, it was so nice to end with some of the best Matcha ice cream and some really light green tea.

We really enjoyed our dinner Shunsaiten Tsuchiya despite the communication barrier. We were the only non locals there, which let us to think that it wasn’t a popular fixture with food tourists, despite 2 Michelin Stars to its name.

The premium ingredients used within the light, fluffy but crispy tempura batter made it a really enjoyable affair and it was nice to experience tempura at this level of culinary skill.

Would’ve been great if they had English speaking staff which would have gone a long way to help us appreciate and understand the finer details of what we were served, which is a crucial component of any nice meal.

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