TEMPURA | 一宝 (Ippoh)

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Tried out this starred Tempura joint from Osaka finally over lunch, with a reservation made one month in advance. Established back in 1850 and probably the oldest of its kind, Seki-san is now the fifth generation of the family carrying the baton. Having venturing into Shanghai with a local partner some years ago, he has then decided to go solo and picked Hong Kong as his next outpost, this time going for a low profile 8-seater up in the Soho neighbourhood. While he hailed the use of safflower oil as the major difference versus their Kanto counterparts (mostly sesame oil), LG detected a slight trace of Kushiage style in the dishes prepared as well with their use of batter, a good reflection of their Kansai origin. Another point of interest is the use of a rather shallow wok instead of the usual copper oven like fryer. This together with the cosy little counter brought along an air of Yatai-ness to it, probably indeed the very origin of how Tempura was first served back in the good old days. Having spent quite some time in the US himself, Seki-san’s rather fluent English is also a good help in explaining the origin of every piece of ingredient used, mostly from Japan of course. A nice surprise is to find a piece of magochi being included, verifying indeed the claim that all seafood are jet fresh from Tsukiji. Another feature worth mentioning is the sauce being used, much more complex and robust than the usual and in Seki-san’s word should be treated as a ‘soup’ and will get tastier as more ingredients are being dipped in. All in all a nice encounter and it is really about time we have a renowned and dedicated Tempura place from Japan to be featured in town. Let’s see if their success will trigger the other big boys to come test the water.

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