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Mar 5, 2014 04:45 PM

Tempura: best beverage and appropriate etiquette?

Going to Japan in three weeks for my first visit. Will be trying a wide variety of cuisine styles including a high end tempura restaurant where each item (rotation of seafood and vegetables) is served individually at the counter, one piece at a time. Two questions:

* I've tried sake but can't get motivated for it even after a two hour tasting class covering wide ranging styles and price points. I drink more wine at home (Napa), but also enjoy beer from time to time. Any Chowhound beverage recs for fancy tempura?

* do you use chopsticks, your hands or both for tempura? I'm trying to avoid a major faux pas at my very first dinner in Japan. I couldn't find any mention of this issue in various articles and guidebooks covering tempura.

Thanks for your advice.

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  1. Sporks all the way!

    Seriously though, chopsticks unless instructed to eat something by hand.

    Unless the shop (unusually) has a serious wine list, you could always go with beer if you don't care for sake.

    1. Definitely with chopsticks as you want to eat the tempura hot. At good tempura counters you will be given instructions how to eat, particularly whether to dip in the salt, the ponzu or not at all. Assuming you do not speak Japanese these will be by pointing. The chefs want you to do it right and are happy to be as helpful as they can, assuming that you are smiling and receptive.. After the regular offerings, they may show you a tray with optional ingredients for your choice.
      I always drink sake, but there is frequently a house Chablis, or something like that on offer. To me that would be better than beer, but you will see others drinking beer.

      1. Personally i did use an apron at Kondo, pieces can't be eaten in once ! It will be better to protect you !!