Looking for the Best Tempura in Kyoto? Check out the Ritz Carlton and the Tempura Genius of Kenji Fujimoto
UPDATE: Since we wrote this article, we are pleased to announce that Chef Fujimoto was awarded his first Michelin star. Click here to see his exclusive video interview with Foodies Go Local.
We first dined at Tempura Mizuki not long after the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto opened its rather splendid doors, back in 2014, and were blown away by Chef Kenji Fujimoto's fabulous, light, sophisticated touch with that old Washoku favorite, tempura. Since then the hotel has gone on to win countless plaudits, including Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Rating 2018, #1 out of the 25 Top Hotels in Japan, TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards 2018, and #1 out of the 10 Top Hotels in Japan, Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards 2017. Chef Fujimoto''s Michelin recognition was certainly no surprise to us.
Kyoto-style tempura is a refined, delicate, and aristocratic affair, and eschews the strong - Kyotoites would say overpowering - goma abura sesame oil favored in Tokyo, for lighter, subtler oils. Here at Tempura Mitsuki, it's benibana abura safflower oil, a Pinot Noir to the Malbec that is sesame. The result is a tempura batter that is irresistibly light and crisp.
In true washoku style most of the ingredients used at Tempura Mizuki are governed by the ebb and flow of the seasons. In the Spring, this means the famed Kyoto takenoko bamboo, Kyoto duck rolled with Kujo negi leeks, hotate scallops, Hanayama sansho beef pepper roll, and fried whitefish. In summer expect the fabulous Kyoto specialty hamo pike conger with shredded plum, white asparagus, white corn, ayu sweetfish, mekajika swordfish, nasu eggplant, and okoze rockfish.
The abundance of Autumn brings the wonderful amadai tilefish, Fujikuro ginkgo nuts, and, delight of delights, late-season hamo pike conger with matsutake mushrooms. In Winter, try the local specialty Shogoin radish with karasumi bottarga salt, kawahagi fish liver in ponzu sauce, Densuke anago conger eel, amadai shirako-maki tilefish and soft roe roll with caviar, Naruto kintoki sweet potatoes, and Hosokawa gobo burdock root.
That said, Tempura Mizuki also offers some fabulous year-round dishes. Our favorites are the Omi-gyu beef fillet in shiso roll; uni sea urchin isobe-maki roll, amadai tilefish, and the absolutely fabulous caviar topped herb egg yolk tempura. The latter is an explosion of umami and fabulous aromas, as well as being a work of art - just try deep frying an egg yolk!
If you enjoyed this article, check out more fabulous Kyoto foodie delights at Michelin-starred Ryozanpaku, brilliant fish specialist Shogoin Ranmaru, the humble but brilliant ramen noodles at Kyohei Ramen, and the soba buckwheat gem that is Tagoto, all located within easy reach of the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto.