テッパンおおいた

テッパンおおいた

Food & Drink  

Toyotsune Honten: The Flagship Store

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Anyone who’s been to Beppu has probably heard about this restaurant, Toyotsune Honten.  It moved some years ago, not so far away from its previous location, and has been beautifully renovated since.

Their tendon, deep-fried assortment of fish and vegetables on top of rice, is so irresistible; therefore, the place is constantly crowded with hungry customers, so I will have to wait in queue in order to finally savor it.

Inside, I hear people chit-chatting, not only in Japanese but also in Korean, Chinese and many other languages, which adds to the ambiance and makes it a buzzing atmosphere. In spite of spotting a Japanese menu on our table, I stop a man in service who is busy running up and down wearing a headset: “Is there any English menu here?” I ask. “Certainly!” he replies.

Everything is written big and clear with lovely photographs of their dishes enabling very easy decision-making even for foreigners. “Have you got ones in any other languages by any chance?” I inquire. “Sure!” he responds and comes back straightaway with a menu written in Chinese and Korean.

I knew what I would order even before entering the restaurant; nevertheless, I browse through their menu and ponder other options, salivating while looking at the photos. My friend orders “Ryukyu,” a variety of fish pieces marinated in soy, sake and sesame, as he is a huge fan of it.  Of course, even after considering other possible options, I end up selecting the original and the usual, “Special Tendon”! One might think there must be a normal tendon if there’s a special one, but only the special exists here.

Without much waiting, “Special Tendon” is placed right in front of me. The choice of my fellow companion, “Ryukyu,” also arrives in no time.

Their kitchen is open and visible to customers at the newly renovated Toyotsune Honten. Although back at the previous location, we were even able to appreciate the view of the owner’s hands and their speedy, intricate movements while deep-frying large prawns.

Looking at this “Special Tendon” in front of me, my mind travelled back in time to when I saw prawns being coated in batter and dropped into a giant pot of hot oil, making sizzling sounds as their outer layers gradually turned a golden brown.

The served plate has prawns and vegetables coated in such crispy batter and are dressed with a unique sauce, which I reckon is actually the untold reason why this restaurant has become so popular.  I hear some can eat at least three bowls of steamed rice with only this slightly sweet and flavorful sauce. Customers can also take and enjoy this sauce in the comfort of their homes.  Isn’t it so generous of the owners to share their special sauce? Obviously, it has been perfected with their secret recipe having been put together over many years of experience!

The restaurant was founded 30 years ago by a couple. The wife used to work at a popular tempura eatery in Tokyo before moving down to Beppu. With the words, “You are so bad at deep-frying tempura!!”, the soon-to-be owner, a daughter of the couple, tells me that is exactly how her mother suddenly approached and pressured the Beppu man to marry.

“The ‘Special Tendon’ you just had, in a way, is the fruit of my parents’ love! The recipes and dishes they developed are what I am inheriting and feel obliged to protect as their daughter.”

My eyes got a little teary… I awkwardly blamed it on the sweet, savory sauce having splashed up around my eyes.

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