Tasty tempura minutes from Yokosuka gates
Tendon IwamatsuCuisine: Japanese
Along with many others, tempura is one of the signature dishes in Japan.
And, while there are a few ways to eat tempura, one of the most popular is tendon – a bowl of rice with various tempura on top. The dish is a great way to appreciate the unique flavor of tempura and broth on hot steamed rice.
If you are located in Yokosuka, you have the opportunity to try tendon with just a seven-minute walk from the naval base’s Mikasa Gate. Located next to the Yokosuka City Hall park, Tendon Iwamatsu is a very popular tempura joint right in the neighborhood.
As with any popular eatery in Japan, the quality can sometimes come along with a bit of a wait. I often see a long line of locals frequenting the place for a taste of homemade tempura during lunch hours.
I was able to visit the tiny family-run restaurant without a line. Once inside, I found a small L-shaped counter that fit about 10 or so. Two chefs were cooking dishes to order at the counter.
Unfortunately, there are no English menus at Tendon Iwamatsu.
The simple menu has just five items to choose from – tendon, yasaitendon (vegetable tempura rice bowl), anagotendon (conger eel tempura and rice bowl), ooebitendon (large shrimp tempura and rice bowl), along with Iwamatsudon, the most popular dish, which contains two large shrimp tempura, sweet potato, clam and vegetable.
As there are no menu in English and staffers don’t speak English, I recommend you remember the name of the joint’s top dish, and order it by saying “Iwamatsudon hitotsu onegai shimasu” (One Iwamatsudon, please).
The 850-yen ($7.50) dish of iwamatsudon was gorgeous. Various large tempura packed the steamed rice bowl and soy-sauce based broth, along with grinded radish and pickles were a perfect complement to the crispy and fried tempura.
Although I had a more-than-five-minute wait for my food, the dish was served hot, fresh and crispy while its ingredients were tender and chewy.
According to a chef, most of the tempura ingredients are locally produced, so they are safe and fresh. She boasted of using renowned conger eels caught at Koshiba Fishing Port, five miles north of Yokosuka.
The large and tasty tempura bowl left me full and content.
You can order an optional miso soup for 50 yen ($0.30), or 150 yen ($1.20) for a larger portion. Miso soup contains mushrooms and seaweed, and the bonito flake flavor goes well with any tendon dishes.