When you see Aji, Ayu and Kisu on the menu, it’s SUMMER! There’s a Confucian saying where one should never eat something that is not in season” (不時不食), and “One should not eat meat that is not cut properly, not food that is not served with the proper sauce” (割不正不食。不得其醬不食). Maybe Confucius, aka Johnny (仲尼), was a gourmet himself – and what he says is particularly applicable when it comes to traditional Japanese restaurants.
Rated a Top 500 restaurant in Tabelog and a one-Michelin star restaurant, Tempura Tazawa (天ぷら田ざわ) is a family-run establishment with just 12 seats. The restaurant is conveniently situated along a main road, just a few blocks away from the Goryokaku Park. From the outside, it a typical grey-tile saltbox roof house, but the interior is a typically Japanese, with simple decorations, wood and paper sliding panels.
Chef Tazawa barely speaks English, but he was very eager to interact with diners. I for one don’t speak much Japanese, and he tried to explain everything slowly as if a grandpa is talking to his grandchildren. From our “conversation”, I came to know he’s a photographer, and the pictures adorning the wall are all his works. Other than cooking, he’s always busy displaying his raw ingredients to his guests.
The chef handles everything – from the selection of sashimi, frying the tempura, doing up the soba all the way to the dessert. One can see he takes pride in his work.
The food was great but the homey feeling of the restaurant was the highlight. It is both amazing and romantic to see the old couple working together running this family business.
Tempura Tazawa (天ぷら田ざわ)
Address: Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, Suginamicho, 23-10 (北海道函館市杉並町23-10)
Directions: Local train – stop at Suginamima Station (杉並町) and its about 3 minutes walk from there. (すぎなみまち市電「杉並町」電亭より徒歩)
Tel: +81 0138-56-2023
Visited on: 4 July, 2013
Price: Tempura course at 9450 yen + Soba 530 yen (天ぷらコース9,450円 追加で手打そば530円)
Hours: Dinner only 6:00 – 9:00 (Closed on Thursday and Friday) [Reservation in advance is a must]
Chef: Koichi Tazawa