Dining Review: Teppan Tavern Tenamonya – Kyoto, Japan

Dining Review: Teppan Tavern Tenamonya – Kyoto, Japan

June 2023

Dining Review: Teppan Tavern Tenamonya – Kyoto, Japan

I found Teppan Tavern Tenamonya through their very high Google reviews – one of the best in Kyoto. The website is very intense with multiple instructions and warnings for dining here but the reviews were so good I figured they had to have a good reason to have such a detailed and strongly worded website.

And there is indeed a good reason. The shop is run by a husband and wife team – Hideki and Naoko – that manages all aspects and operations of the restaurant. The restaurant is small with only 14 seats so this mom and pop shop has many rules in order to make those 14 seats count. Reservations are required and tough to get – you can only book 14 days in advance. Groups must be 4 or less people and there is also a notice that you also need to spend 4000 yen when visiting. They literally keep the door locked and open only for when reserved guests arrive due to the high demand. You also sign your life away when you make a reservation indicating that you read all the not-so-fine print, that your group is under 5 people, that it is for dinner, no vegetarians, and much more. All the warnings and capital letter print was for good reason – this is not their first rodeo and for every reminder or warning, it is because 100 people did not follow easy instructions. Plus, the reviews for this restaurant were so overwhelmingly good that it must really be that great that they need to swat people away with all these messages. 

I was able to get the last reservation of the day at 5PM and I gladly accepted it. I was certainly nervous and wanted to make sure we were not a minute late. There were big signs on the door indicating they were full tonight along with many of the statements from the website. We arrived a few minutes early and waited outside for the owners to unlock the door. As we waited, a few different parties came around, read the sign on the door, and walked away. At 5PM, the door opened and the wife let us in with a welcoming smile and immediately locked the door behind us. We were seated at the bar and greeted by the husband. Knowing they had a tight schedule, we quickly placed drink orders and decided on our food. And then they got to work preparing our meal. It was so amazing to watch this two person operation create this multi-course meal. 

The Menu is organized as shareable sets for two people. Kevin and I selected the B set menu which included: 

  • Tempura soft shell crab
  • Grilled prawns
  • Homemade gyoza dumplings
  • Choice between
    • Okonomiyaki pork with noodle*
    • Vegetable fried noodle
    • Negitaki pork
  • Choice of A5 wagyu beef by grams of 100g, 150g*, 200g
  • Dessert
  • The gyoza was the first dish to come to the table and with our first bite, we looked at each other and knew this was going to be an incredible meal. These gyoza was so delicious and upon asking what was inside, I was only told it was a secret family recipe. 
  • The prawns were a great size and grilled to perfection.
  • Soft shell crab is one of our favorites and this one did not disappoint and we could have had at least three more. The side salad was also welcomed to get in some leafy green.
  • I was most looking forward to our first okonomiyaki of the trip. Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake that is made of flour, cabbage, seafood, and pork belly slices like bacon topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, dried seaweed, and a heaping portion of bonito flakes. The tavern’s version also had some noodles in there as well. The presentation was beautiful and we were given little shovels to cut sections off to eat. One bite and I immediately fell in love, it was so amazing with a mix of savory and sweet. And it was topped with little Taco! Definitely one of our favorite new Japanese dishes.
  • While I was excited to have A5 wagyu steak, I was a bit skeptical when we ordered on how good the quality would be at a tavern like this. And I knew when the meal started it was a silly concern cause these guys just rocked it. Melt in your mouth goodness, this wagyu was everything I remember about eating wagyu in the past. And spoiler, this was actually better than the wagyu we had in Kobe where the wagyu is renowned. 
  • Dessert was a freshly cut up pineapple which was refreshing and pleasant. Honestly after the marathon of eating, this was a welcomed way to finish off an amazing meal.

To complete our experience, we were also given fortunes and a guide to Japanese phrases that we got to practice with during our entire meal. We even got pictures emailed to us after our meal!

Soap Box: The next guests arrived towards the end of our meal and my goodness they made me blood boil – it is everything that makes american tourists get a bad name. They immediately started asking for accommodations – no bonito flakes, well done wagyu – OH MY LORD. Clearly they did not read the website and their confirmation email. I do not know how the owners stayed so polite. Please, wherever you are traveling – do not be these people.

We had such a wonderful dining experience at Teppan Tavern Tenamonya and it is well worth all the accolades. Everything we ate was amazing – this was definitely our overall favorite restaurant of the entire two week trip. What an incredible experience that I would highly recommend! The owners welcomed us like we were old friends eating in their home. Please if you visit, go in with an open mind and experience all they have to offer – you will not be disappointed. 

Continue reading all the details of our trip – here!

To see our full itinerary – here!

Read what to expect in Japan – here!

My complete packing list for Japan – here!

See all blog posts for Japan – here!

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