M Tempura

4.7
73 reviews
icon/ic_price_rangeCreated with Sketch.
$31 to $50
icon/ic_cuisineCreated with Sketch.
Tempura
M Tempura is Durham's traditional Japanese tempura restaurant. For lunch: Our lunch options are strictly Pork and Fish Katsu lunch sets and not traditional tempura. Tempura is available only for dinner to allow lunch diners fast and efficient service. We plan on introducing vegetarian options to our menu soon. For Dinner: Our dinner service is strictly a set menu. We are a small restaurant with limited seating, so we ask that everyone who sits to choose one of the dinner options. We currently cannot accommodate shellfish, vegetarian (egg in batter), gluten, and seafood allergies. We apologize for the inconvenience. We plan on introducing vegetarian options to our menu soon.
What 73 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.7based on recent ratings
4.7
food
4.9
service
4.6
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Quiet
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
Sort by
Newest
Filters
G
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Such an amazing meal and experience. sit at the bar so you can watch the action!!

Report
Helpful
T
Raleigh
7 reviews
Dined on May 9, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

A unique and fu. experience but, having done it, I probably won’t rush to come back.

Report
Helpful
JF
Raleigh
6 reviews
Dined on May 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We've been to M Sushi several times and somehow always had issues with the service. Not so here! Friendly, just attentive enough and the wonderful food was brought out in an expertly choreographed fashion. We had the the $43 Omakase. It was perfect for a couple of hungry men.

Report
Helpful
EN
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our 2nd time there, its gets better with each visit

Report
Helpful
OT
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had the basic dinner which was plenty. Wonderful variety of vegetables and seafood perfectly cooked.

Report
Helpful
ML
Raleigh
15 reviews
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I ordered the Dinner Traditional Tempura meal and it was absolutely sublime. It was authentic tempura. Not heavy or greasy but light and delicious. The fish (salmon, sea bass) was fresh and mouth-watering. The shrimp, scallops and vegetables were done perfectly. The pre and post tempura courses that come with the traditional meal were equally fabulous. And the final course of ginger ice-cream with crystallized ginger shavings on top set off the whole meal. I would expect this sort of restaurant in a large cosmopolitan city. To have it here in Durham is a gift. Chef Michael Lee is a true culinary artist. When you make your dinner reservation you chose your time based on whether you prefer the bar area around the chef's or a table. We did table and it was lovely. But all the seats were taken as the restaurant only seats around 30 total people, so take what you can get. You will have a meal to remember.

Report
Helpful
B
1 review
Dined on May 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This whole meal experience was really fabulous! The food was amazing, interacting with the chefs was fun, and the setting was intimate and warm. We will definately do again!

Report
Helpful
m
Raleigh
4 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Like M Sushi, the attention to detail and quality of ingredients is top notch. The young man who was a greeter and overall manager was the highlight of the meal. He offered us a better seat at the bar so we could see the tempura preparation. The person preparing it could not have been more unpleasant. Unlike to professional and upbeat, welcoming sushi chef's at M Sushi, this posture was not the case and food was kind of angrily pushed at us. This same chef appeared to have an issue with the manager and was whispering to her assistant - in front of us. Didn't want to see this let alone have it be the experience. Two other servers on the floor - outstanding.

Report
Helpful
TM
Raleigh
10 reviews
Dined on April 19, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

M Temura is an experience. It is expensive but worth special occasions. There is no bar.

Report
Helpful
d
Raleigh
10 reviews
Dined on April 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

My wife and I ordered whatever the lowest-price omakase menu was called, the "basic," I think, for $29, and with a tempura soft-shelled crab on top of that (1 for $14, which we shared), it proved to be almost more than we could eat. We didn't disagree with N&O critic Greg Cox's assessment that this must have been "tempura at its best," although we had never eaten tempura that came anywhere close to this in quality. So we had no runner-ups with which to compare it. As for all the different menus, each piece of tempura was fried separately and served as soon as it was cooked. The sequence was thoughtfully chosen, and the ginger ice cream for dessert constituted a wonderful finish to the meal.

Report
Helpful
EE
Raleigh
19 reviews
Dined on April 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We sat at the bar, which was fun because we could watch the chef work and speak to her occasionally. The food is done perfectly, with an extremely light batter and cooked very quickly to save the most essential flavor of each item. The tastiest items, such as shrimp and salmon, we're absolutely perfect. For more bland items such as Lotus root, I would have liked to have had something a bit intense, such as horseradish. We will definitely go back.

Report
Helpful
NC
Raleigh
41 reviews
Dined on April 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food. Really fun to sit at the bar and watch everything being prepared. Great service.

Report
Helpful
GM
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very pleasant little restaurant in a cozy alley very convenient to parking. The dinner menu is essentially prix fixe with three levels to choose from, and a few selections that can be added. The food presentation is beautiful and in the basic set we found a nice variety of tempura. The tempura batter is very light and crispy to perfection; menu items are served in groups of two or three at a time so that from the beginning to the end of the meal one is eating freshly prepared food (Very important when dealing with tempura). Flavors and textures were invariably delicious, with a superb ginger ice cream for desert. The service is relaxed and super attentive without being intrusive. Overall, one of the best experiences of the many good experiences we have had dining in the triangle.

Report
Helpful
OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic food and great experience!

Report
Helpful
HH
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Dinner at M Tempura was even better than I had been told. The service was spot on, the food was wonderful, and the small setting lent itself to a very pleasant experience. The service was incredibly well choreographed and the food was delicious. Highly recommend, but do expect to spend a lot of money!

Report
Helpful
PS
Raleigh
2 reviews
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was fantastic as always. Left full, fat, and happy

Report
Helpful
MK
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic food and service. Very quiet and not many people when I was there, so I don't know if that is a typical dinner environment or not. But still, very happy with the experience.

Report
Helpful
S
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing restaurant. Clean decor, very appropriate and reminiscent of Japan. Sat at the bar for dinner and got the middle set omakazi menu. Everything was delicious. Loved the progression, the salad had the most amazing dressing, the raw tuna was so fresh. The tempura itself was delicious, was the perfect amount of food. And the value was incredible! And the home made ginger ice cream was delicious. I’ve had tempura in Japan at a Michelin starred restaurant, and thought this was better. Kudos M, amazing restaurant, we will definitely be back!

Report
Helpful
EN
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was our first time, we will Definitely be “back”!!!!

Report
Helpful
d
Raleigh
7 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great experience if you’ve never had authentic Japende tempura. We did the full Omasake and was not disappointed. The service was just as good as the food. Do make a reservation it’s a small place.

Report
Helpful
d
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As a person who really enjoys Japanese cuisine and great sushi, I found this to be an equally entertaining departure but within that realm.

We did the M-Omikase tasting menu and each dish was a delight. I loved the play on the chips and dip, the prawn was rich, the wagyu was juicy, the scallops perfectly cooked with a little caviar on top was a treat. They often brought other surprises in to keep the palette cleansed.

Would totally recommend and do again.

Report
Helpful
SO
Raleigh
4 reviews
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service, great food experience. Would recommend m's best platter.

Report
Helpful
BL
Raleigh
47 reviews
Dined on February 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Very pleasant succession of tempura nuggets. Started with a small salad followed by a minuscule portion of raw tuna, which left me lusting for more, then several tempura courses of which the salmon, sea bass and eggplant were my favorites. As noted by others, things tended to taste rather similar to one another as there was no sauce offered beyond the usual tempura sauce given at the beginning. Overall, I enjoyed this but it was quite expensive, so I won't be rushing back. For value, M Kokko is clearly preferable and M sushi has more variety.

Report
Helpful
RS
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on February 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

What a great place! I love M Sushi and was very excited when I heard a new M restaurant was opening up, and M Tempura did not disappoint. I highly recommend sitting at the bar, because it made the entire experience for me. Getting to see the technique in preparation and the food cooked to order was incredible, and the chefs themselves presented each tempura course to us. Each bite was fresh and delicious, and the tempura added to each food instead of taking away from its flavor. It's a great place for a date night, fun night out with a foodie friend, or for a special family occasion. I will definitely be back!

Report
Helpful
D
New Mexico
43 reviews
Dined on February 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Tasty food, but a bit repetitive, not much difference between courses. The best course was the crudo.

Report
Helpful
NF
Austin
1 review
Dined on February 2, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Ventilation isn’t very good; we smelled of oil when we left. We had to wash EVERYTHING we were wearing and unfortunately my handbag still smells of frying oil. The food is nice, but I’m not sure that making a meal mostly out of foods cooked exactly the same way is a winning concept. It was very one note. The crudo and soup broth were highlights, as was the tempura salmon.

Report
Helpful
A
Detroit
32 reviews
Dined on January 29, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

As authentic as tempura can get outside of Japan. True to it's roots, they even have (I believe) the special kinds of fry kettles they only use in Japan. The food comes to the table fresh from the cooker as there's already a proper tempura set-up at the table with ponzu, daikon, pickles and other Japanese accoutrements that go with tempura. The only negative is the space needs better ventilation. The smell of used cooking oil permeates the restaurant. Our clothes all smelled of used cooking oil by the end of the meal. It's also a little pricey for what you get. In real tempura, the fish would all be exactly the same size and there was some variation. Except for the only real complaint, this is an outstanding restaurant. Only got 4 stars because of the smell. DO NOT let that keep you away though. The food is outstanding and very traditional.

Report
Helpful
MM
Raleigh
9 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This is not the standard greasy tempura in your sushi restaurant. It's the real deal.. unbelievably light, crispy and delicately flavored, super fresh, and just incredibly delicious ... Stunningly enough, it's not oily; fried to perfection. Amazing to see them make it in front of you. Try to get there early and get a seat at the bar to see the chefs at work. Well done, Chef Mike!!

Report
Helpful
F
Raleigh
13 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Great food, excellent service. Do not go if you are in a hurry. However, the ventilation system does not work well. We reeked of fried food (this is a tempura restaurant). Spoiled the evening, I am very sad to say.

Report
Helpful
JS
Charlotte
19 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 2

Tempura was good and ingredients good, but each piece took 10 - 15 minutes to arrive. Restaurant was crowded but no reason a single piece of shrimp or asparagus should take that long.

Report
Helpful
NB
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on January 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food and a wonderful experience. The service was great and we enjoyed every minute there.

Report
Helpful
MR
Raleigh
3 reviews
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Amazing, one of the best meals my wife and I have had in a long time, she says "ever!" We had both omakase choices, there is more than enough to share what's missing from one. I can see where the some comments about the oil smell come from, not terrible but noticeable the next day on our jackets. Only one minor issue, someone kept opening one of the doors in back, so there was a very cold draft coming through the dining room. Recommended!

Report
Helpful
OT
Raleigh
5 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

M Omakase was a great trip :)

Report
Helpful
TC
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on December 27, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

Unique tasting menu and a delicious meal; though service was quite slow and the room became increasingly smoky throughout the evening. Worth another visit, but hope for an improved ventilation system!

Report
Helpful
OT
Raleigh
8 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our first time at M Tempura and we absolutely enjoyed our meal and the service. We both had the basic course and added the scallops a la carte. We will be back many times!

Report
Helpful
OT
Raleigh
5 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was my third time going and still incredible as always. Only difference is this time I sat at the bar and I have to say that it’s the best way to enjoy the food. When you sit at the bar you can see the chefs prep and fry everything right in front of you. Tracy the chef is awesome company and can tell you anything about the food or the restaurant. I’m repeatedly impressed by the quality of everything and can’t wait to see where the menu goes in the future.

The staff was awesome as usual and actually remembered me from previous visits which was a nice welcoming touch. I’m definitely going back soon.

Report
Helpful
M
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on December 13, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 3ambience 3

The food is absolutely excellent and deserve an easy 5-star.

The problem is the oil smell filled in the room. Our clothes smelled like tempura. The open kitchen concept does not go well at all with tempura. Until this is fixed, I cannot go back again (although the food is really really good).

Report
Helpful
Y
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on December 11, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 1

This was our first visit to M Tempura. The menu is very limited with only 3 pre-selected dining options ($29/$43/$63 per person). The meals are prix fixe and we did not note if substitutions were available. You can add on tempura items only after you selected a dinner option. You can only get the most expensive option if all diners in the group get that meal. The food was perfectly prepared, hot, and very tasty. It arrived at a good pace. Our total meal for 2 people, middle dinner option, 2 bottles of sake - $185. Very expensive! The restaurant was COLD and the staff kept opening the backdoor to bring in supplies and take out garbage which blasted us with more cold air. We were told there was no way to escape the cold draft - that the entire restaurant was cold. We were forced to wear our coats on our laps for warmth. It was cold in Durham, but not so much so that the restaurant should not be able to correct for this and provide proper heat. The staff was excellent, attentive and professional. The lighting is harsh and unappealing. Sneeze guards are duct-taped to the top of the cooking areas which looks shabby and incomplete (and a little unsanitary). We used the OpenTable app to make our reservation and were unable to get a 7pm reservation - so we chose 7:30pm. The place was dead when we arrived, with less than 10 people seated, so being forced to wait was perplexing and annoying.

Report
Helpful
H
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing, unique food. Great service. If you love Japanese food, but need a break from sushi, this is the place.

Report
Helpful
c
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

OMG it was good!!!

I went to M Tempura with two friends last night, and we decided to splurge and order the M Omakase at $69 pp. No regrets! It was divine. A seemingly endless supply of sublimely delicious treats, each course was more delightful than the previous. Paired with a crisp Sancerre, it was magical.

Stand outs were the fish, lobster, wayu beef, truffle potato cake, asparagus, home made ginger ice cream...
all fantastic. There were one or two dishes that were less to my liking as they were a tiny bit spicy, but overall this was a delightful treat.

Not a bargain (I think dinner for the three of us hi $400 with drinks), but a joy. Service was excellent- efficient and smooth but also friendly and engaging.

The only thing i would change is the lighting and possibly the decor. It's spa toortan and clean, like M Sushi, but a bit too cold (both visually and temperature). Lighting was way too bright. Dimmer bulbs may be all that's needed, but a bit of art on the walls would also go a long way.

And the smoke....
We did not really notice at all while in the restaurant, but our clothes did take on quite a tempura odor afterwards. So much so that people we met in the parking garage elevator immediately asked us "Did you go to M Tempura? We can smell it." Better ventilation is probably needed, but this would not keep me from returning!!

Overall it was a terrific meal and lovely dining experience, with some minor flaws (and a hefty sticker price).
Still... totally worth it!!

Report
Helpful
1
2