On the back streets of Kagurazaka in the basement of a modern building is Tempura Arai. The entrance to the restaurant is a small door that one must bend over to enter. Tempura Arai is the sister shop to the famous Tenko that opened recently and should be put on your Go List. The contrast to the father’s shop is striking as Tenko is a former geisha residence and has some history to it while this is modern with sleek lines.
At the moment Tempura Arai is open for lunch and lunch is very reasonable with the tendon starting at 1,400 JPY and a full course at 5,000 JPY. However, I believe that the shop may only be open for lunch on Saturdays only starting in the new year. The evening course starts at 8,500 JPY which is a good price.
Part of the tempura experience is listening to the items as they fry in the oil. Tempura Arai is intimate enough that you can hear each item as it cooks in the hot oil.
We did the lunch course, the tempura is light and delicate and finishes with a kakiage cake over rice. The shop has sake and a selection of wine as well. The restaurant can do vegetarian only upon request, but I believe the vegetables would be fried in the same oil as the shrimp and seafood.
Tempura Arai 天婦羅あら井
Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 4-8, AGE Bldg. B1
新宿区神楽坂4-8 AGEビル B1
4 Comments Add yours
Hi there, just wanted to say many thanks for highlighting this place, we went last week during our 3 days in Tokyo and loved it. It was kind of quiet which is a shame for them but the food was great (certainly to our novice tempura tastes), service friendly and we both had a very memorable time. I was wondering if you could also recommend a sushi-ya that we could try as our first high end sushi experience? We are back in Tokyo for one night on 17th April and the places I wanted to try are all fully booked (I TOTALLY underestimated booking times!), I had in mind Tokami but no chance. Doesn’t have to be Michelin star etc just good quality and somewhere we can get a reservation!! Any guidance would be much appreciated.
Many thanks, Joe
Ps, I found you via the excellent Katie Parla who I love for her superb Rome recommendations 👍
Arigato, Joe, for the kind note. I am thrilled you made it here! For a good sushiya, try and get into Ginza Kyubey Honten. It’s a big restaurant and hopefully you can get in. They do take reservations for lunch only at 11:30 a.m. If you can’t get into this restaurant, they have branches in hotels as well. This is one of the top sushiya in Tokyo. Some of my sushi aficionado friends even think it is better than many other popular shops. 🙂
Thrilled you found me via the lovely Katie Parla! Ciao!
Thank you for your recommend & speedy reply that sounds perfect! Voyagin can get us a spot there but they charge $45/person just for the booking, is it the kind of place our hotel can book? I’d rather spend my ¥ on delicious fish!! We leave Kyoto tomorrow for Kanazawa (via Osaka & Mt Koya) so any tips you have for there would be very welcome also!
Very many thanks again,
Of course your hotel can book it. Another reason why it is worth staying at a hotel than renting an AirBNB, if you want restaurant reservations.
I hope you get a reservation. 🍣