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Tokyo's Traditional Fast Food : FUNABASHI-YA @Shinjuku

Updated: Feb 25, 2023


In the centre of SHINJUKU, I was going back and forth between the entrances of two restaurants, wondering which one to visit. One was FUNABASHI-YA, a historical building opened 130 years ago at exactly the same place in Shinjuku. The other was Tsunahachi, operating for 90 years in this town. These two restaurants are located within 100 feet of each other and serve the same dish, Tempura.


The word `Tempura` originated in Portuguese, the only country the Edo government gave permission to trade with in 17c. Its cooking style of buttering fish and vegetables to deep-fry was brought to the capital of Edo, then quickly became a nationwide favourite. Tempura was served at a tiny shack on the streets as a popular fast food for Edo residents. Then the cooking methods and ingredients got more sophisticated, and trained chefs started to cook in front of guests in luxury restaurants, two of which I just mentioned.

This time, I decided to go through the door of Funabashi-ya. I didn't have any particular reason to choose this, maybe next time I'll visit Tsunahachi. In the restaurant, chefs were standing facing a heated oil sink, ready to fry any ingredients when taking orders. I went through the menu, which didn't have many options. Tempura course meals were tempting, but a bit pricey. So I ordered a 'Tendon' tempura rice bowl.


In Tendon, two tempura shrimps, a fillet of fish and vegetables are piled on rice, and covered by plenty of 'tare' savoury sauce. Even though Tempura has been developed to high-end cuisine nowadays, Tendon keeps its fast food style and is loved by citizens as a reasonable lunch meal.

Funabashi-ya inherits its traditional cooking style of deep-frying in sesame oil, which gives tempura a darker finish compared to modern ones seen lately. It was so good and so tasty that I wanted to savour it as long as possible, but I couldn't resist gulping it down and cleared the bowl in a minute.



English Menu Available. Cards Accepted.

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