Off to Asakusa after Tokyo Tower. The Japanese mums at school recommended that we visit Sensōji (浅草寺), also known as Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo's largest Buddhist temple. A main attraction was food; tempura in Asakusa, near the main Kaminarimon (雷門) gate is said to be really good; I'm not a tempura fan, but Eddie is.
It was about 11am when we arrived at Kaminarimon Dori (Street) and although still quite full from breakfast, we went searching for Irokawa, a grilled unagi restaurant. Unagi first, tempura later.
From here, "Established in 1861, Irokawa has been serving the best eel in town for six generations. Everyday, the owner goes to the market as early as 5:00 in the morning to purchase the freshest eels to serve for the day. Irokawa’s festive decorations attract many regular customers. Once you taste this delicious fare, you will want to come back for more!"
Irokawa (2-6-11 Kaminarimon Tel:03-3844-1187 11:00AM-1:30PM, 5pm till sold out; closed Sundays) looks really inconspicuous from outside. It's on a street off the main street, about 5 minutes walk from the main gate.
We had to ask a few people where Irokawa was even when we got near to the restaurant and could smell the lovely aroma of grilled unagi cos the shop was so small and didn't look like it was opened for business. When we opened the door, the restaurant was already almost filled with patrons.
The unagi is grilled at front of the restaurant.
Only Eddie and I ate up while Brian and Sean just looked on. Silly boys. This was ooooh, amazingly good! Grilled to perfection. I would highly recommend going to Irokawa if you're ever in Asakusa, worth every calorie. And I said Yes! to Brian when he asked, "Is this authentic?" :)
We had a 2nd round lunch after visiting Sensoji Temple. Eddie needs his tempura fix you see. I had narrowed down two tempura restaurants but when we passed one that looked really popular, Eddie decided to just eat there. He thought with so many Japanese patrons there, we couldn't go far wrong. Only when I got back did I realise this was one of the 2 restaurants I had on my list.
From the same website, "For half a century, Aoi-Marushin has been serving tempura on Asakusa Kaminarimon Street, right near the Kaminari gate of Sensoji temple, in an eight-story building. The secrets of Aoi-Marushin’s delicious tempura are high-quality sesame oil, an original sauce and the freshest seafood which the founder, a fish seller himself, assured was always of the finest quality."
Aoi-Marushin (1-4-4 Asakusa Tel:03-3841-0110 Mon-Fri: 11:30-8:45 Closed: 2nd and 4th Mondays).
The tempura shrimps were huge.
It was good, not great, not sure if we felt that way cos we were so full. I don't think so, the batter just wasn't light the way we like it. I kept telling Eddie he fell into a tourist trap, until as I said, I went back and realised this was one of the 2 restaurants I had on my list. Lucky for him, I did my research well and we managed to eat at a better tempura restaurant on our last day in Tokyo, which I'd recommend if one's craving tempura.