After checking in with the Ramen gods at Daikokuya on Saturday night I was in for quite a shock, 15 parties of two and four tops all waiting for one of the limited spots inside this small Little Tokyo ramen shop. At least an hour, I thought to myself. Then I recalled the tempura bar at Hotel Kyoto I had read about. So we decided to head down the street to Thousand Cranes and try it out.
Through the hotel lobby and up the elevator to the garden terrace, we arrived in a delightful and relaxing garden setting. Waterfalls, ponds and a Japanese garden welcome you into either the Garden Grill, a Teppan-Yaki style restaurant, or Thousand Cranes, a Japanese cuisine, sushi and tempura bar.
We inquire about the tempura and we are seated at a table near the window. Quite a nice view of the garden, although the music coming in over the airwaves was smooth jazz. I thought some traditional Japanese music would have been more apropos.
We look over the menu, in English and Japanese. I find the tempura selection. Not as much as I had hoped in terms of choices and go with the shrimp tempura ($27.50) selection. Large prawns, with some other vegetables sprinkled in. A shiitake mushroom cap, small sliver of carrot, a broccoli floret, lotus root, tomato, zucchini and eggplant. Hot oil bubbled out with each crispy bite.
Unfortunately, I’ve come to find out after doing a little proper research, there indeed is a real tempura bar but we were never offered that choice. At least according to the website, the tempura bar should have been open on this Saturday evening. Perhaps chef Hiroyuki Shiono was out? Sigh. It was good regardless, but I feel a little cheated, having not gotten the whole experience.
The Canadian Deep Sea Cod ($29) was succulent, moist and flavored with miso and soy. It came with a side of sweet, slightly dry, pumpkin mash and grilled veggies.
It’s a very authentic Japanese experience, the waitresses in traditional kimonos, the decor inside, the gardens outside, and even the Japanese patrons having dinner there. Overall a good meal but with small servings at a stiff price (we paid $12 for two servings of rice and miso soup), I might try something a little more down to earth (i.e., less expensive) next time I have a craving for deep fried fish and veggies.