Built in 1960, the iconic Tenjin Building features an exterior of brown Arita-yaki tiles. In its basement is Sakau, a long-standing purveyor of tempura that opened in Nakasu in 1930 and moved when the building opened. Today, long-time regulars and tempura fans flock to sample the deep-fried delights of owner Ryusuke Chano. With only counter seats, you can enjoy the crackle of frying tempura while you wait for your food. The secret behind the perfectly crisp, aromatic tempura is the kaya (Japanese nutmeg-yew) seed oil – long viewed as the pinnacle of cooking oils. A true rarity in Japan, kaya seed oil makes for an incredibly light fry. The dipping sauce, a combination of soy sauce and kelp and bonito broths, is accented with granulated sugar, adding just a touch of sweetness to the seasonal ingredients that Chano fries up. Chano’s dedication to the craft of tempura, which eschews additives and aims to maximize the inherent flavors of the ingredients, is the secret to Sakau’s success.
Menu: Tempura Rice Bowl ¥1,080, Lunch Set (~15:00) ¥1,380, Special Set ¥2,300, Junmaishu Sake ¥620, Bottled Beer ¥600
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn217, Jan. 2017)