Where would a journalist be without his or her contacts? Most likely not in Mantenya, a pocket-sized tempura restaurant near Tenma in Osaka. I am based in Kyoto, so Osaka is a bit of a known unknown. Luckily I have two contacts who have yet to set me wrong.
Mantenya might possibly be the weirdest — and it could turn out to be the most memorable — restaurant I’ve ever set foot in. When I say pocket-sized, I’m not exaggerating by much. There are three tables, two of which practically spill out the door. The other one is hidden behind a fridge. It’s hard to get a sense of how small and claustrophobic Mantenya is because a) it’s kitted out in gothic black, and b) it’s so stuffed full of kitsch and crap that you can hardly see your plate, never mind your companions. Imagine the boudoir of a bat-crazy fortune-teller and you might get some idea of where I was.