As the food and restaurant scene evolves in the Triangle, restaurant groups have been popping up given the success of local owner-chefs! From Ashley Christensen to Matt Kelly, these higher end restaurant groups are locally owned, managed and run, spanning a breadth of cuisine types. One chef-owner that has recently expanded is Chef Mike Lee of M Sushi and M Kokko. I’ve had the opportunity to dine with Chef Mike way back in his Sono days and at other special events and have always found his food to be subtle and delicious. With a focus on high-quality ingredients, well-integrated flavors and interesting textures, he’s done a fantastic job evangelizing and representing Japanese cuisine for the Triangle.
His most recent concept, M Tempura launched on October 5th and I had the chance to dine a M Tempura on Day 2 of its launch. And let’s just say it is a fun and indulgent experience. The menu is simple with a Ten Don Set (meal served all at once), Omakase (chef’s choice) and Grand Omakase (soon to be available) on the menu. The omakase is a luxurious experience spanning 11 to 13 dishes/items brought to you in sequence. The meal moves from lighter flavors to more intense flavors over time. And you’re given a tray of tempura condiments (pickled vegetables), fresh lemon (cool, fish-shaped lemon squeezer) and other umami-laden ingredients to enhance your meal. The fried tempura is served as it is cooked, fresh and dropped onto your tasting plate. A quick dip into the dipping sauce and you are ready to eat! It’s definitely a dining experience focused on high quality ingredients and frying technique to get you the freshest eats possible. In addition to the tempura, the Omakase also includes some other items such as salad, crudo, tekka don, miso soup and dessert.
Note that substitutions are not available so if you are gluten-free or vegan, you won’t fare well at M Tempura. That being said, if you’ve got an open mind and palate, the dining experience at M Tempura is a luxurious one full of indulgence and flavor. I’m sure the tempura ingredients served will change depending on the season and availability. I hope that the pictures here will help you better understand what to expect if you dine here. As a first-timer, I have nothing to compare it to but I will be back! What’s even more interesting is that Chef Mike already has some other concepts planned on the website (M Yakitori, M Mandoo and M Kogi) so who knows what 2019 will bring?
Photos of M Tempura, Durham
M Tempura Omakase Menu – 10/6/18
Fried Pearl Onion
Fried Japanese Yam
Tekka Don (Tuna)
Ginger Ice cream