Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Kikuya: Seasonal tempura on the fly at Ebisu standing bar

by Robbie Swinnerton

Contributing Writer

Who says good, fresh tempura requires major outlays of time and money? Back in the day, batter-fried foods — introduced by the Portuguese five centuries ago — were cooked and sold at street stalls, eaten as a light meal on the fly or nibbled as a snack with sake.

That’s pretty much the way it’s done at Kikuya, except instead of squatting at a street stall you stand at a modern counter in tried-and-true tachinomiya (“standing bar”) style. There are plenty of simple side dishes to go with the drinks but Kikuya’s main calling card is tempura, cooked to order in front of your eyes.

All the standards are present, plus winter specials such as snow crab, monkfish and cod milt. The vegetable selection is extensive, and there are more whimsical nonmainstream items such as avocado, mozzarella and tomato caprese, and even tempura’d ajitama (ramen-shop eggs).

Kikuya is fine as a place for snacking, but if your legs start to give out head across the road to Kaoriya Soba (www.foodgate.net/shop_kaoriya). The restaurant’s hearty noodles will round off the evening nicely.

Tempura from ¥150; side dishes from ¥300; sake from ¥380; English menu; little English spoken