Review: Kondo

5 September 2016

That was an amazing weekend, but Monday is here. My last full day in Tokyo…time really flies when you are in your favourite city in the world. Yes, it’s really become that. I feel so chill here. So hoping for a great close to this excellent trip! I was still full from last night’s amazing Sushisho Masa extravaganza, but eat again we must!

Today’s destination is the 2-Michelin tempura Kondo. Supposedly they dinged Abe and Obama when POTUS was visiting Japan last time due to lack of availability (they went to Jiro, who I’m sure would happily bump people for his ego). I always do at least one top tempura when I am in Japan; last time was the fantastic Uchitsu, which also had 2 stars that blew me away. Let’s see what this place does!

From the first moment I started to worry. The place was LOUSY with Chinese tourists — of which Ginza is home base. Apparently the chef here is well-known from TV (uh oh…) and is a magnet for tourists and locals alike. I was sat at the counter and chilled to enjoy this meal. Chef is at the frier doing all the stuff, though he has a team of assistents prepping. The restaurant is larger than you’d imagine…

Since nearly everyone at the counter was on the same schedule having come at the open, it was a bit of a wait for all the stuff to be distributed. We were given some seaweed to start things off before the fried goods arrived. First up, prawn heads.

02a-prawn-heads

Nice, crispy and good as usual. Only in Japan would I enjoy eating this, as they know how to cook this right. Then the prawn, followed by the other prawn…

02b-prawn

I have to say the quality of these were not good. Stringy. I’m surprised, as you usually don’t get poor quality prawns for a top tempura. Cooked well enough with good batter, but the creatures themselves were not good. Sigh… Then next up, after a bit of a wait, were asparagus.

03-asparagus

Really tasteless to be honest. Looks far better than it was. Then pepper…

04-pepper

Not bad, but the batter here was falling a part a bit. Then we get to the first whitefish, kisu.

05-kisu

Not bad again, fluffy and nice. But rather underseasoned. And when my salt plate was running low (already) no one added more. A bit odd…

Anyway, a slight slowdown here due to the volume of stuff chef is making, but then next up is eggplant.

06-eggplant

This was not good. The batter was flaking off badly and the eggplant was actually seriously undercooked. This is probably as bad piece of tempura as I’ve ever had in Japan… I kept thinking about Uchitsu and even the excellent Tenko Honten in Hiroshima (which also had 2 Michelin stars) and this place is so far closer to a corner place on Sepulveda in LA or 8th Street in NYC. Not good.

I was starting to really worry as the beer was the best thing of this meal so far. Then the okra…

07-okra

Really poor again. Then the next fish, magochi, a flat-head fish.

08-magochi

This was not bad, but the frying was inconsistent and too bad that made the tail inedible. Oh well… Then we got an onion…

09-onion

Tasteless, sadly. The batter was just peeling off as the onion was soaked in oil. In fact, this was the oiliest tempura I’ve ever had in Japan. Then I got confused — every other diner got some seasonal squash, except me! Did they skip me? I kept giving the kitchen staff the look but they just ignored it. I asked the server and she didn’t know what I was talking about. Even other diners were looking and wondering why I didn’t get it…

Now I was just unhappy with this place. You can see it’s just a cash cow for them, using the reputation and formerly good name of this place to make money with shoddy stuff. The anago arrived and it was very mediocre, almost overcooked…

10-anago

Suddenly when I had to choose the last item the same waitress that feigned lack of English during squash-gate was speaking very good English. Ugh… I chose the ten-don.

11-tendon

This was not bad, but again very ordinary. I quickly finished up and paid, pissed off at the bill being so high for such a crappy dining experience. And of course it was a total shitshow in the waiting area as it was full of people waiting. A total fire hazard. Couldn’t even navigate to the elevator.

This was truly awful, a place to totally avoid. There’s no love for food or ingredient here. The dour face of the chef all morning says plenty. This was just for profit. What a terrible mistake to choose this place…

Obama, you didn’t miss anything. Frankly if Abe had brought you here, we’d be in a trade war or worse by now… What an insult to good food…

Kondo [近藤]
9F, Sakaguchi Building
5-5-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo, Japan

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4 thoughts on “Review: Kondo

  1. Pingback: Review: Toyoda | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: My 10 Best Meals of 2016 | melhuang1972

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