Tempura Kiro


WE turned up at noon on the dot as per the internet-advertised times only to be told that lunchtimes are now off. There are no bookings and no phone number so the advice from the Tempura Kiro staffer is to try again later, man.

Um, Leo and I mosey up the street to Lagom Kitchen where over corn fritters he insists that we are right now eating in the hippest-happenest-down-with-the-kids-place in town.

I point out Lagom can’t be that down-with-the-kids, mate, as from where I am sitting I can see at least one past president of the law society brunching and even nearer to me an OBE.

Fast forward to 5pm and I’m tootling up Victoria Road again when I notice a tiny blackboard outside Tempura Kiro. Crikey. They’re open. Within minutes I’m swinging my heels on a high chair while the man is announcing some important incoming news for this evening: there’s no rice.

This is nothing to do with supplier problems, Brexit, the SNP or even the price of tea in China. He, apparently, simply forget to put it on. Though he’s doing it now. Full marks for honesty anyway.

The place is already packed though, or as packed as a shoebox can be. I count seven people including myself and that couple who squeezed in beside me at this raised table and then quite sensibly bolted to the window seat as soon as it became available.

Ordering is completed via a neat little Tokyo-cool tick box menu, pens supplied, veg tempura or fish and veg, large or small. Bottomless green tea from an urn by the door at £1.50. Banana fritter anyone?

At one point while waiting, just as Janet Jackson and the Pleasure Principle is oozing from the iPhone sound system, I navigate the extremely tight passage to another blackboard by the door to look at tonight’s ingredients.

It’s there I learn that Tempura Kiro is open Wed/Thurs for karaage and chicken; Fri/Sat for tempura set.

But the man tells me that they’re going to Japan for a couple of weeks. It may be next week. I’d check first. Though remember they don’t seem to have a phone.

If you’re getting a homespun-vibe and wondering nervously what exactly the food is going to be like, I was too.

In fact, the show so far is a bit like going round to a complete stranger’s house, with some more strangers dropping into the kitchen, for your tea.

It could all go horribly wrong and despite the appetising fragrance of seafood that’s slowly filling this room, I’m expecting it all to go horribly, amateurishly wrong.

Actually, it all goes spectacularly right from the moment I look up and see the tempura set arrive.

There are little lids and pots and perfectly clever bowls that switch this way and that and contain interesting things, but dominating everything is heaped tempura that even at first glance just looks completely right: bubbly, almost translucent batter, fresh bright colours of vegetables and seafood shining through.

I taste a slice of crisp sweet potato, a nest of ginger, onion, carrot; there’s clean fresh hake, a pert little shrimp, and a langoustine that’s a gossamer shell around a pink shell, around firm meat.

Everything is lightly, perfectly, seasoned. Sugar snaps, broccoli, whitebait, baby corn are all consistently good, all prepared correctly by the lady with the fryer who is at the counter about three feet away.

On the same tray there’s a bowl of miso, coiled pools of silvery, purplish ramen with the fragrance of sesame, a pool of dipping sauce, and fresh yet pickled daikon.

In the space of, say, 10 minutes this whole experience has gone from slightly amateurish to supremely personal and weirdly quite intimate.

I realise I’m no longer sitting on a bar stool in a scruffy shack, but eating in what is surely the actual hippest place in town.

Tempura Kiro

74 Victoria Road


No phone number

Menu: Simple to almost the point of perfection. Vegetable tempura or fish and vegetable tempura. Green tea on the side. 4/5

Atmosphere: Shoehorn required to get comfortable in a tiny restaurant on Glasgow’s south side, somehow creates a very special intimacy. 5/5

Price: The full fat, sorry large, tempura set with rice (usually) pickles and miso is £12. Worth every penny. 5/5

Service: Honesty isn’t always the best policy but when you forget to make the rice and the diners are two feet away fessing up pays off. 5/5

Food: It’s not more than tempura, but it’s super fresh, perfectly crisp and light and sprinkled with salt and a little fairy dust. 9/10