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A while back, we paid a visit to Fukugawa Tsuribune, a restaurant in Tokyo’s Kunitachi City famous for its fried foods and tempura. We engaged in a delicious battle with its gigantic tempura sea eel rice bowl, coming away victorious but full to bursting.

But believe it or not, that actually wasn’t the most colossal offering on Fukugawa Tsuribune’s menu, which is home to an even more terrifying titan of a meal.

Kakiage are tempura discs of diced vegetables, usually carrots and onions, sometimes with tiny shrimp mixed in. They’re usually tossed into bowls of udon or soba noodles, or are eaten as part of a set of mixed tempura. Fukugawa Tsuribune serves them on top of a bowl of rice though, a dish called the kakiage don.

Because of its relatively inexpensive ingredients, kakiage are popular with people looking to fill up on the cheap, such as students. Fukugawa Tsuribune’s kakiage don proved to be especially popular with youth athletes who would come in after a game, but many of them were still hungry after finishing off the three pieces the rice bowl originally came with. So many asked for refills that the restaurant began to gradually increase the number of pieces, and before they knew it, the kakiage don had grown into the giant it is today, with close to 40 pieces.

▼ We’re not sure if we should call the person who created this a chef or a structural engineer

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▼ We have a sudden urge to put ornaments on it and display it in our living room in December

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Shockingly, this still isn’t enough for some diners. According to Fukugawa Tsuribune regulars, every time a customer polishes off the entire thing, the restaurant adds another kakiage to the dish the next time someone orders it, essentially chasing the ideal of offering “all-you-can’t-eat” kakiage.

Despite the kakiage-don’s ungodly portion size, the cooks at Fukugawa Tsuribune are mere mortals, and they of course can’t be cooking up this huge dish for every customer that walks in the door. Only one kakiage don is served per day, available only by reservation, and with an average waiting list of approximately six weeks.

▼ At this point, it’s not so much a rice bowl with kakiage on top as a pile of kakiage with a sliver of rice jammed underneath.

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For those of us who aren’t competitive eating champions, there are no rules against sharing the kakiage don with your friends. However, Fukugawa Tsuribune does require that each customer order at least one dish. Thankfully, the menu has plenty of other tempting rice bowls, such as the sea eel bowl we mentioned before. And despite being the restaurant’s claim to fame, choices extend beyond fried foods, such as the wagamama/”I want it all” bowl with minced raw tuna and salmon roe.

▼ The other rice bowls, which look plenty big enough for a normal meal, are referred to as “mini size” by the restaurant.

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Restaurant information:
Fukugawa Tsuribune
Address: Tokyo, Kunitachi City, Higashi 1-15-18, Shirano Building, 2nd floor
東京都国立市東1-15-18 白野ビル2F
Hours of operation: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. / 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Images: Manpuku Chusu
[ Read in Japanese ]