I have a soft spot for these hard places under the tracks in Tokyo. They scratch out an unglamorous life in the shadows of this gargantuan city.
For decades, Ten-yo-ne tempura has been serving up Edo-style tempura, dark and savory, cheap and delicious.
It’s a tiny place, of course, with a pale blond counter of smooth hinoki seating six.
On the other side of the narrow kitchen are a few small tables filling an unadorned dining space illuminated with the thin timeless wash of fluorescence. Every once in awhile, you can make out the rumble of trains passing overhead.
The jo-tendon (¥1450) is the dish of choice here. Glistening in their burnished gold batter, atop a bowl of freshly prepared rice, are two large prawns, a kisu white fish, some mushrooms, a shishito green pepper, a shiso leaf, and a small kakiage “dumpling” of sliced, mixed veggies and tiny shrimp.
The teishoku set menu includes a small dish of well-made pickled vegetables, a bowl of miso soup, and a tiny dish of seasonal vegetables sprinkled with sesame seeds.
A counter seat over on the right side is the most interesting place to sit.
Plus you can observe the master while he cuts, batter-dips, fries and assembles your tendon bowl.
The lunch for about ¥1000 is a great deal at Ten-yo-ne.
You can sit elbow to elbow with salarymen, office women, and sales staff from the nearby department stores and shops.
If you are up for an adventure, stroll down the underground passageway to the left of Ten-yo-ne. This narrow, tunnel-like alley is perhaps a kilometer or so long, filled with tiny restaurants, bicycles, and the ghosts of Tokyo past.
2-1-10 Yurakucho, Chiyoda Ward. Tel: 03.3591.0926. Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 9pm.