By Caroline J. Photos by My B. Posted September 2, 2022, 12:44 PM
Take the time to taste while traveling: this is the unique experience offered by Tenzen, a gourmet and confidential restaurant dedicated to tempuras, headed by the talented Japanese chef Jiro Kondo.
If you’re tired of eating on the go and wolfing down your meal in seconds, then why not turn to a very enjoyable dining experience ? To discover it, you have to go to Zen, a family Japanese restaurant nestled in the 1st arrondissement of the capital. The surprise is in the basement. After going down the stairs and through the sliding door, here we are at Tenzen !
Described as the first gourmet tempura counter in Francethis new confidential restaurant immediately immerses us in the atmosphere. With this small room entirely closed on the outside, this noble wood put in the spotlight on the walls and this cypress counter can accommodate up to 12 people, Tenzen places his pawns and doesn’t take long to catch our eye.
Behind this famous counter, we find the talented Chief Jiro Kondo. Originally from the island of Kyushu, in the south of Japan, the chef first cut his teeth by making the essential sushi, before turning to more traditional Japanese cuisine and finally becoming passionate about one of the pillars of Japanese gastronomyI named the tempuraoffered here in its most authentic and sophisticated form.
It is therefore around this counter that the waltz of dishes begins before our amazed eyes. The intoxicating smells that emerge quickly make our mouths water, and the technicality of the chef Jiro Kondo can only subjugate us. But be careful, don’t be in a hurry. At the house of Tenzen, we take our time. Count between 2h and 2h30 at lunchtime, and a little more in the evening, because the tasting menu is more plentiful, but also more expensive (Lunch menu at €65 and Dinner menu at €120).
So what exactly to expect with this single menu honoring the quality products ? It all starts with the essentials otsumami, these small varied starters mixing different textures and authentic flavors. This noon, place for a fried eggplant and its miso sauce with some sliced chicken, then a japanese omelet accompanied by a stuffed green pepper and a marinated shrimp, and finally a sashimi duo brill and sea bream (two line-caught fish in Brittany), served with a leaf of wasabi and lemon parsley, and a lightly sweet homemade soy sauce enhanced by a bonito broth.
We continue with an assortment of 8 tempuraserved with delicacy one after the other: head of shrimp, whiting, squid, green beans, shiitake mushrooms, corn, baby potatoes, and of course fig tempura, an incredible and succulent creation imagined by the Chef, decorated with a miso sauce with egg yolk and sake. A real delight that will be remembered! The chef’s secret Jiro Kondo ? The use of a cottonseed oil specially imported from Japan, which preserves all the flavor of the ingredients and offers an ultra delicate and fine breading.
Note that each tempura is to be enjoyed either with Camargue fleur de selor with a dashi sauce and its grated radish, either with a surprising and delicious volcanic salt from Iceland! If you feel a little lost between these different accompaniments, don’t panic, the server is there to guide you in the best tasting possible. Special mention also for the service, caring and listening throughout the experience!
After these tasty 8 tempuras, the journey continues with the famous kakiage-don ; a rice cake with beans, mushrooms, corn, tempura shrimp… all delicately placed on perfectly cooked rice. To perfect this moment, the chef offers us a delicious red miso soupand some tsukemono (in this case beet stems and leaves).
We’re starting to stall, but it’s not the time to falter, because it’s time for dessert. As refreshing as they are light, we love these pieces of pear decorated with a hojicha syrup, mascarpone whipped cream and candied chestnut.
After more than two hours of observing the chef’s technical gestures and discovering the tempuras in a refined form, you come out of this experience with a smile on your face, happy to have experienced this timeless parenthesis.
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This test was carried out as part of a professional invitation. If your experience differs from ours, please let us know in the comments.