One thing that struck me on my restaurant tour in Japan is how patient Japanese people are in terms of waiting in line. Unlike in New York, there is no such thing as a receptionist taking your number and texting you once your place is ready. You just need to stand in line for hours if necessary. I debated whether I should line up at the famed Dai Sushi in Tsukiji Market where the line starts to form around 3-4 a.m. to get seated starting at 8 a.m. but decided against it. There was another place, however, that I really wanted to check out. Located on a quiet corner of Nihonbashi neighborhood, Kaneko Hannosuke has long been a famous tendon (an assortment of tempuras on top of rice) place where long lines are quite typical any given day. I showed up slight before the restaurant opens up at 11 a.m. and still there were at least two dozen people in front of me! I thought to myself, let’s see if this place is as good as it gets. I mean, how good can a simple tendon dish get? Well, this place proved me wrong by a mile. Yes, there is such thing as life-changing tendon dish. It was that good!
There is just one dish at Kaneko Hannosuke, with tendon starting at 950 yen (with additional 120 yen if you want to add miso soup). The dish looks quite simple: just an assortment of shrimp, squid, white fish and some other vegetables all fried and on top of the rice. I don’t know what the kitchen has done, but the frying technique is just pure perfection. All the food was lightly battered and perfectly cooked. There was no greasiness in any of the pieces and, along with the perfect texture of rice and the deeply aromatic flavor of miso soup, the lunch turned out to be one of the highlights of my culinary journey in Tokyo. For such a simple dish to create such a sensational experience for my palate was marvelous!
As mentioned above, get there early by all means if you want to avoid multi-hour waits. The line grew exponentially outside by the time I got seated at the counter. The tiny restaurant has a small counter on the first floor and dining space on the second floor; if you are alone, you’re more likely to get seated on the first floor where you get to see the kitchen staff in action. Kaneko Hannosuke is the type of restaurant that makes the food scene at Tokyo so wonderful. For an unassuming place that serves only one dish, it shows the dedication of the kitchen to the craft of making the perfect tendon, and such dedication clearly shows in one of my best meals of the year.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 9.0/10
- Flavor: 9.0/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
Address: 1-11-15 Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo Ku, Tokyo