Japan’s love affair with tempura – batter-coated, deep-fried vegetables or seafood – has only grown since its introduction to the country in the mid-16th century. Tempura-ya (restaurants that specialise in tempura) are common, and Akimitsu is one of the country’s best-known chains. With stores across Asia and as far as Canada, the brand has now expanded to Australia – and Adelaide is its first stop.

Akimitsu (short for Shitamachi Tendon Akimitsu) was founded by Akimitsu Tanihara, the fifth-generation head chef of a 128-year-old restaurant in Asakusa, Japan. “In Japan, Akimitsu is very popular,” says Desmond Wong, owner of the Adelaide spin-off. “They’re open the whole day. They get packed easily, and at lunch and dinner there are always people lining up.”

It was on a trip to Japan that Wong discovered Akimitsu’s tempura and became determined to bring it home. With more than 30 years of restaurant experience under his belt, he sold his Gouger Street restaurant on a whim, liaised with Akimitsu’s team and set up the new space.

Like Akimitsu restaurants overseas, visitors can choose from tempura or tendon (tempura served on a bed of rice). All of the seafood is sourced locally, but the sauce ingredients are from Japan. It’s the sauce and tempura flour that make Akitmitsu special, according to Wong. “We mix our own tempura flour. It’s a secret recipe and crispier than others,” he says. Also on the menu is a small range of noodle dishes, rice bowls, yakitori, karaage and sides such as miso soup and hanjuku egg (a soft-boiled egg soaked in tendon sauce). Umeshu (plum wine) and a range of sakes are available.

Hindley Street is perhaps a surprising location for such a cosy, traditional-looking space. The fit-out is similar to Akimitsu’s international counterparts; it has timber beams, an open kitchen and there’s the option to book a private tatami-mat room for groups.

Shop 2/62–68 Hindley Street, Adelaide
(08) 8410 9620
Sun to Thu 11.30am–3pm, 5pm–9.30pm
Fri & Sat 11.30am–3pm, 5pm–10.30pm