Monday, 10 September 2018

Restaurant Review: Tatsumiya Asakusa (Tokyo, Japan)

Tatsumiya Asakusa

After our tour of Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine, plus shopping at Nakamise-Dori, we dropped by Tatsumiya for lunch.  They had photos of the food outside plus they had an English menu.  

Tatsumiya, opened in 1980, is a restaurant that's run like a formal ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant focused on luxury) but does oppress the first-time visitor a little with the weight of their antiquity and the ceremonious formality of their service. Neither inaccessible nor outrageously expensive, here you actually have the feel of a rough-cut izakaya (Japanese pub). 

The restaurant interior

The restaurant, which can seat 54 patrons, had some Western-style tables but we chose to be seated in a traditional Japanese setting – removing our shoes and sitting in a stylish but comfortable horigotatsu, a type of traditional Japanese table that's low to the ground but has a recessed floor beneath it so that we can stretch out our legs. This allowed us to sit in a tatami area the same way we sat in a Western style.  

Most of the other patrons inside the restaurant were Japanese. The restaurant had a very traditional feel, with dark wood, and the rooms were decorated with antique chests, braziers, clocks, lanterns, bowls, utensils and craft work (some of it for sale). The fridge at the kitchen was full of big nihonshu sake bottles.

Cheska, Bryan, Kyle, Grace and Jandy seated horigotatsu style

Our waiter, who spoke fairly decent English, was very helpful. For lunch, we chose their smashing tempura special deal combo – Extra Special (2,580), Special (1,800) and Regular (1,480). Though slightly salty, this was, by far, some of the best tempura we’ve ever had.   They also serve unabu (steamed grilled eel on rice), hitsumabushi (chopped kabayaki eel on rice), sukiyaki set, sukiyaki bento box (sashimi tempura, sukiyaki, rice, miso soup and Japanese pickles), beef cutlet set (Kuroge wagyu), Edo-style little hot pot set (choice of beef, chicken, whale, tuna, sea bream, pork & yam), dojo (loach) hot pot set and yanagawa (loach and egg hot pot).

Tendo (tempura rice bowl)

Come evening, the restaurant’s cuisine follows the kaiseki repertoire, served only until 8:30 PM, which is derived from the tradition of the tea-ceremony meal.  Multiple courses are served, some raw, some boiled, some vinegary and some grilled. You must reserve ahead for it.  A variety of nabe (one-pot seafood and vegetable stews, prepared at your table) is served until 10 PM. The pork nabe is the house specialty. Their delicious dojo-nabe is another iconic dish from the Edo Period and famous in Asakusa. 

Tendon (tempura rice bowl)

A good place to have sukiyaki and Edo hot pot, overall, the restaurant was a decent place to experience Japanese food in a traditional setting. Nothing impressive or unique, but the food was good.

Western-style seating

Tasumiya Asakusa: 1 Chome-33-5 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan.  Tel: +81 3-3842-7373.  Website: Open daily except Monday and 3rd Sunday of the month.

How to Get There: via subway - Ginza and Toei Asakusa lines, Asakusa Eki (Exit 1 or 3). 

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