Tempuric Cuisine: Matsui - New York City & Mizuki - Kyoto, Japan
Many people, this diner included, used to think that tempura eats were limited to vegetables and shrimp appetizers or in westernized sushi rolls...until now. In reality, tempura is a cuisine in its own right, and in Japan as well as New York, there are restaurants dedicated to the 16th century-old dish. Quick history lesson: The culinary world can thank Portuguese missionaries for introducing flour and eggs as a batter to the Nagasaki region of Japan in the late 16th century. These combined ingredients resulted in a fritter type concoction which lead to the evolution of the new cooking technique from simply frying in rice flour. Seeing as these basic ingredients were thought to be "commoner's" food, the upper class in Japan only began enjoying tempura cuisine in the 19th Century.
As I present both restaurants keep in mind that my meal at Tempura Matsui was from a limited set lunch menu, and any fine tempura establishment in New York will have the same menu offerings as any restaurant in Japan, short of local fish and fresh seasonal ingredients. Without any further history or painstaking detail, please enjoy my tempura lunch below and be sure to keep reading for my feature on Tempura Mizuki in Kyoto, in the second part of this piece.
Served with a Bowl of Rice, an Assortment of Pickled Vegetables & Miso Soup
For more information please visit www.TempuraMatsui.com .
Maccha Salt, Seaweed Salt, Kuro Shichimi Salt*, Lake Salt
*Kuro Shichimi is a famous Kyoto seven spice blend
*²Kakiage is a fried vegetable & shrimp fritter.
Crystalized Sugar Top, Cherry Blossom flavored Mascarpone, Poached Morello Cherries
Some 460 years after those Portuguese missionaries introduced new a method to the Japanese, diners around the world are still enjoying this fried golden delicacy. I hope you'll remember some of this history the next time you're enjoying your favorite fish or fresh green à la tempura, and draw comparisons to Tempura Matsui in New York City, and Tempura Mizuki in Kyoto, Japan.
For more information on Mizuki and its Tempura Counter please visit their website here.
Coincidentally vegetables are also the focus in vegetarian cuisine. Check out Nix in New York City, a one Michelin Star restaurant leaving the question "Where's the Beef?" back in the 80s.