After a whirlwind 4 days exploring Western Saga, we did something rather radical. As Y and I was so curious about this sushi place called Tenzushi Kyomachi (named after the chef) located in the fishing town of Kokura in the area of Kitakyushu, we decided to drive around 2 hours plus to here for lunch after checking out from our hotel in Karatsu, of course we had planned it way back but later on we kinda wanted to cancel it after realising we might be so tired from all the driving, but decided oh well, just do something extreme, and strangely we didn’t feel as tired as we expected from the drive, as the sushi lunch was rather quite unexpectedly refreshing and probably helped to rejuvenate us.
Tenzushi Kyomachi 3-11-9, Kyomachi, Kita-ku, Kokura, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka, 802-0002, Japan, Tel: +81-93-521-5540. Closed on Mon & Tues. Open for lunch and dinner. Reservations ahead a must, sits only 5 people. Tabelog website. Access: located walking distance from Kokura Station.
Entrance in case you miss it!
Chef Tenzushi Kyomachi
If you are expecting to come here and eat traditional sushi, then don’t come but if you are looking for something different and are open to new sushi tastes, this is worth a visit if you have extra days in Fukuoka (as it’s only an hour by car from Fukuoka city). Some Japanese traditional chefs may not like this place, while other international renown chefs like Rene Redzepi of Noma named this as one of his favourite restaurants in an interview. We first chanced upon this when we saw the list on Tabelog for Japan Restaurant Awards 2016, and it was rated No. 9, naturally it got me curious.
Tenzushi Kyomachi’s sushi is different from the Edo-mae Sushi which is usually found in Tokyo. A sushi eater may be used to having his sushi with soy sauce, but don’t expect that here. Rather Chef Tenzushi Kyomachi’s sushi is served with interesting ingredients such as kabosu and sudachi (Japanese citrus), lemon, soy sauce powder and homemade salt. These ingredients offer a refreshing flavor, which is quite delicate and really brings out the taste of the fish and rice and creates a wonderful synergy amongst the ingredients.
When making the reservation through Hotel Okura Fukuoka’s concierge, we had the option of choosing omakase menu ranging from JPY16200/10 sushi pieces, JPY21600/15 sushi pieces, or our budget price which the chef will arrange for us, so we decided to go with the JPY21600 set for each of us.
Cool counter with constant water stream to wash my paws.
It’s a plus point that Chef Tenzushi could speak English so that was really helpful when he was explaining the sushi he was serving to us. It was my first time sitting at a sushi counter where I ate directly off the long wooden table which acted as a giant plate for us, this is quite a common practice I think for many sushi restaurants, but strangely the ones I have been to so far don’t do this, and present theirs on proper plates. The cool thing that was so fun for me was the little tap under the counter slab which had a constant water stream running down so that we could rinse our hands there after using our hands and in my case – my paws to eat the sushi.
Chef Tenzushi told us he uses Shizuoka wasabi as it’s the best and Y & I mentioned to him we wanted to have less wasabi and he joked with us he was happy to reduce it since it is expensive. I was liking this chef’s personality already even before we begun eating!
I won’t go to lengthy extents to describe the taste of each sushi as I hope to convey them through the images below. Honestly, every piece of sushi looked like a piece of art especially the squid, it was almost too beautiful to eat. And I liked that the sushi has an almost cheery feel to them, which echoes the chef’s personality.
#1 : Tuna
#2 : Squid – one of my favourites in taste and presentation
#3: Shrimp – can’t go wrong with a fresh ebi!
#4: Saba (mackeral) marinated with seaweed and ginger
#5: Hotate with sweet sauce – a fresh and delightful combination
#6: Hirame with monk fish liver on top – another great combination
#7: Kachibo fish with ume
#8: Otoro Tuna – can’t go wrong with this melt in your mouth fish
#9: Kiso – whiting fish with Yuzu pepper – another really nice combi
#10: Horse mackerel with soya sauce powder
#11: Sea bream – gorgeous smokiness
#12: Topshell – quite firm, probably the only sushi I didn’t like as much
#13: Uni – what can I say except it was just sublime!
#14: Sweet sauce and salt anago – excellent
#15: Sushi roll – seaweed and sea grape
This was quite special to me as it’s the first time I think I have eaten sea grape and it’s only available in summer.
It’s called umi budo from Okinawa.
Dessert: My favourite sweet tamago!
As you can see from my sushi pictures above, the sushi may look modern in some shots with some surprising choices for ingredients, yet the tastes and flavours of the toppings with the fish and rice went together so well. Unfortunately, Chef Tenzushi said he doesn’t have any apprentice to pass the sushi shop down too – we didn’t see any working with him, he was really a one man show, so he said when he retires, so will the shop. So you’ve been warned if you like to try his take on sushi, head down soon before this sushi shop disappears one day.
And a special tip he was telling us on other good famous sushi in Fukuoka are Chikamatsu and Yasukichi, I have yet to try them, so will hopefully have a chance to check them out in future with Y.
I am so happy with my photo op with him and I got to wear his sushi hat – what a great way to end my meal here!