The BIGGEST TEMPURA BOWL in the world!
I came across Banya easily when I googled 'seafood' 'kujukuri'. The owner of Banya is a fisherman himself and what's on the table are all caught by him. Even on their sign, it says `the real restaurants owned by a fisherman' in a bold red letter.
We went there a little after 2am on Sunday and waited in line for about 20-25 minutes. It wasn't too bad but if you are going for right in the lunch or dinner time, I recommend to get there early.
A part of the restaurant is a huge fish tank which tells you the food is fresh! We really liked the atmosphere where it's warm and welcoming. It seems like everyone is locals but the server told us many people travels far to eat there.
So you must think... if seafood is so fresh, sashimi must be their specialty. Their sashimi is of course good, but actually their most popular menu is the GIANT TEMPURA BOWL (Banya Tempura Don ばんや天ぷら丼: ¥1,700/US$15.15). It's not cheap for a bowl of tempura but I'm confident to say they are offering at the best price... because it's HUGE!! Paolo can eat a lot but he could not finish this monster.
To be honest, I thought it was just going to be all about size not the taste, but it was in fact beyond any tempura bowl I've had in my life. And trust me, I was born and raised in Japan. I had more than a million tempura bowls in my life. This bowl has a huge shrimp, a half of an arm sized squid and all kinds of vegetables. Tempura was dipped in a sweet sauce before decorated on top of rice and rice is macerate with that sauce and umami. Man, I can just eat that rice.
Even though I knew tempura bowl was the top menu, there were too many sashimi menus that I wanted to order and I ended up getting seafood Bowl (Kaisen Don 海鮮丼: ¥1500/US$13.36). It was amazing. Everything just melts in my mouth in a second but leaving all the good after taste. It seem like they change the topping everyday depending on what they catch. Mine had amaebi, tuna, ikura, porgy looking white fish, clam, salmon and pink egg looking thing.
They also have cool grill menu too. We wanted to grill it ourselves but unfortunately the table we sat (ones in the back) did not have a setup for table grill. It's always fun to cook it at the table so you should request the server for the front table.
At the restaurant, I saw many people ordering sardine menu and it looked GOOD! I got to order this next time.
It was a bit far from Tokyo but IT WAS WORTH IT. If you are planning to rent a car in Japan and have a seafood fever, Banya might be a perfect place for you to try!