Osaka Review: Shunsaiten Tsuchiya
This 2 starred tempura establishment is located in a quiet residential area in Suita city. Get off at Esaka station (Midosuji line, 5 stations from Umeda). A short walk from exit 5, it is quite close to a local primary school.
The restaurant is a 12-seater. Assisted by a couple of assistants, the chef works deftly, he clearly has to as he is the only one doing the frying and the restaurant gets very busy (it serves two rounds of lunch even on a weekday). I had to settle for the 1:30 slot and reservation is hard to come by. The chef is a wine connoisseur and offers a selection of reasonably priced wine to go with the course.
There are several menus to choose from and I preordered the dinner menu. The tempura served in each menu differs (rather than just the number of tempuras). The meal is not quite what I expected. In addition to tempura, elaborate hassun, sashimi and grilled fish courses are included. There is no grated radish to accompany the sauce. While the batter is not thick, I think the chef deliberately applied it evenly and generously.
The strength of the course lies in the wide range of tempura included. The hotaru-ika, amedai and sweet potato were perfection itself. The hotaru-ika was piping hot and the crispy skin of the amedai went hand in hand with the batter. Uni wrapped in seaweed (instead of shiso) was a pleasant surprise. I had never had corn tempura made this way and the crab tempura was a rare treat. Tempura bamboo shoot was just in season. The standing ayu demonstrated the chef’s artistry as much as his technique. There course also included 2 ebi, asparagus, anago (fried in small pieces rather than whole), lotus roots and onion. While there were many endearing surprises, there were a couple of misses. The hotate was overcooked (I wouldn’t have noticed had the hotate at Kondo not left such an impression) and the awabi was too chewy. (Seiju’s awabi simply cannot be improved upon)
The course + a glass of wine + an extra a la carte sweat potato came to Yen10800. (the course itself is 10500, I wonder if the chef got the arithmetic wrong)