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Where to go on a DATE in TOKYO? Try MICHELIN RATED Restaurants

I have a friend who is out on a mission to try out restaurants in Tokyo. Not just any restaurant - Michelin graded ones! Why not? Tokyo is home to the most number of Michelin graded restaurants in the world by city.  I asked my friend out on a date and she was quick to volunteer to find a restaurant. I've only eaten in 1 one-star Michelin restaurant in Singapore so I was excited to try one here in Japan.

In Tokyo, there are 464 Michelin rated restaurants but only 11 of which are rated with three-stars. Luckily, the restaurant that my friend suggested was not three-star rated or I would have made up an excuse to ditch her. Most of the three-star restaurants in Tokyo only serve dinner and some cost up to ¥36,000 ($36 or Php18,000)! You don't have to break your bank for quality food as there are cheaper choices. There's even a Michelin ramen shop that you can enjoy for only ¥1,000 ($10 or Php500). 

Where did we go? We went to a Bib Gourmand awarded Tempura restaurant in Ueno.
Learn how to read the guide in the Michelin website

What is a Bib Gourmand award?


Let's start with "Sino ba yang Michelin na yan? (What is Michelin anyway?)

At the cashier area

When choosing a hotel, we are usually guided by star ratings. The more star a hotel got, the more luxury we expect.  The price, of course, goes higher too. However, there is no SINGLE global authority for hotel ratings. Each country has its own criteria. It's the same with restaurants.

While this is true, there is a prominent guide for restaurants that are published annually.  The Michelin Guide is what every food lovers turn to when they travel to other countries. Check out the 2020 Michelin Guide which just came out!

The inspectors dine anonymously and have only five criteria: quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits. Restaurants may be awarded: The Bib Gourmand, one star, two stars, or three stars... sometimes none. 

Not quite a star, but most definitely not a consolation prize, the Bib Gourmand - named after Bibendum, the friendly Michelin Man and the official company mascot for the Michelin Group - is a just-as-esteemed rating that recognizes friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices. That is exactly the kind of experience we had in Tempura Tensuzu.

There are only 20 Tempura restaurants awarded by Michelin in Tokyo: 7 Bib Gourmand, 10 one-star, and 3 two-star restaurants.

My friend originally suggested going to Nakajima in Shinjuku, a one-star Michelin (also affordable).  However, you'll have to line up during lunchtime as they don't accept reservations. I gladly accepted her second suggestion since it was forecasted to rain that day.

Tempura Tensuzu entrance

The door to the restaurant gives you a promising Japanese dining experience, right? I think if I happen to just pass by, I would still have taken a picture here. 😂

Chef's counter seats. On the other side are tables for groups.

We sat at the chef's counter so we can see the chef in action.  I asked permission to take a video and the chef was very accommodating ("Video o totte mo ii desu ka?").  He would even take time to explain how to cook the tempura. He speaks English so you can have a conversation with him. Some people say he tells the story about the history of his restaurant as he is already the 3rd generation chef.

Deluxe Lunch set

We ordered the Deluxe Lunch Set for ¥2,220 tax included ($22 or Php1,100). To enjoy tempura, you need to eat it right away and it is commonly eaten with a dipping sauce called "ten-tsuyu".  The chef explained the sauce and told us to just let him know if we need to adjust the taste.

Tempura with rice

Miso soup

super hot tea

We were not familiar with the drinks but we ordered just to enhance our experience. Each 330ml bottle of wine or beer is ¥1,300 ($13 or Php650).

Yume nomi
 My friend ordered the plum wine. She said would have liked it better if it wasn't sweet. We are the complete opposite because I only drink sweet wine. If the wine is not sweet I even put Coke. I know, crazy! Our Australian GM found out in my previous work and he said: "That is just wrong!"

Kagua beer

I ordered a Japanese scented ale called Kagua beer. I'm not really a beer fan. By that I mean, I can only try one sip. This one, I was able to gulp down about 75% so I think it's not bad at all. Or could it be bad for actual beer drinkers? I guess you need to taste it to find out!

Overall, I think the Michelin award was accurate. The food quality was good with good value cooking. I just think that they could have served the tempura a bit faster. After the chef cooked the tempura, it goes inside for plating. There was just one waitress who serves the plates so it was probably why there was no crunch anymore. 

I love the miso soup, hot tea, and even the cucumber side dish. The chef and the ambiance was warm and welcoming that it made the experience unique. I'm not a food critic or expert, The Michelin Guide did say that "a Bib Gourmand shows simplicity in cooking and something you could attempt to replicate at home.  It will also leave you with a sense of satisfaction of having eaten so well at such a reasonable price." 

Please check out my youtube video about this experience.  Leave a comment below if you've tried other Michelin graded restaurants in Tokyo or if you want me to try one again (as long as it's not too expensive).  Maybe you can decide to come to eat here the next time you visit Tokyo:

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