Shrimp Tempura from Tozai Restaurant at the Radisson Inn Plymouth

258

Location:
Plymouth, Minnesota

Status:
Permanently closed

Dates active:
1975-1988

When Curt Carlson opened the Radisson Inn Plymouth in 1974, it was the first Radisson hotel outside Minneapolis. Carlson envisioned an increasing number of convention hotels under the Radisson name in a ring of suburbs around the downtown Minneapolis flagship hotel. Each hotel would have a theme and be a place where people in town for business meetings could get a good night’s sleep, enjoy a nice meal, and have something to do after dinner, all without leaving the premises. 

At the Radisson Inn Plymouth, the theme was Japanese tranquility. Carlson Companies shared 50/50 ownership of the new hotel complex with a Japanese corporation. The partnership was the first Japanese/American hotel venture in the United States. 

The 168 guest rooms were constructed first. Then came the Tozai Restaurant that overlooked the new Mizuumi Japanese Garden. A ballroom, conference center, garden court with a heated pool and whirlpool, and the Radisson Playhouse rounded out the complex.

Tozai was billed as a unique blend of eastern beauty and western hospitality, serving dishes cooked using authentic Japanese methods. The main dining room looked out on the expansive greenery of the hotel’s garden court. Main course meals included sukiyaki, tempura, and beef teriyaki. If the Japanese meals weren’t to a guest’s taste, they could order a dish from the on-site American-style restaurant and send it over.

Diners who wanted something a little more exciting could get a table in the Teppanyaki Room. They were seated at an intimate table on the balcony overlooking the main Tozai dining room and Japanese garden. 

Dinner started with a garden salad and Japanese onion soup. Then the show started – the chef piled onions, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and zucchini onto a table-side grill. They seasoned and cooked the veggies with sesame oil and saké before adding shrimp, steak, chicken, shark, scallops, or squid. The dinner was served with rice and green tea.

Just months before Tozai opened, Fuji-Ya debuted on the Minneapolis restaurant scene and set the gold standard for authentic Japanese cuisine in the Twin Cities. While diners seemed to enjoy the beautiful ambiance and the chance to sample Japanese fare at Tozai, local food critics weren’t as easy to win over. Many reviews mentioned the lack of authentic options, like sushi, sashimi, clams, and fishcakes, which were all served at Fuji-Ya. 

Tozai got a makeover in 1982 when the entire hotel complex was renovated. The dining room got new furniture, a rickshaw, and plants imported from Japan. Sadly, the new look couldn’t save the restaurant. It closed in 1988. The dining space was transformed into Pizazz!, a cabaret and tapas-style eatery. Remnants of Tozai could still be found at the hotel as recently as the early-2000s, but subsequent renovations have stripped away all that remained.

Shrimp Tempura

Served at the Tozai Restaurant in the Radisson Inn in Plymouth, Minnesota.
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 12 shrimp (16-20 size)
  • 1-2 pieces per person eggplant, squash, onion, green pepper

Tempura Batter

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour

Tempura Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon hondashi
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (mirin) sake
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions

  • Heat vegetable oil to 350° in a deep pot or deep fat fryer. (This must be a constant 350°. Lower temperature results in greasy tempura. Higher temperatures will overcook the outside.)
  • Whisk together the ingredients for the batter. Dip shrimp and vegetables into the batter and place lightly into frying oil. Use fingers or chopsticks to sprinkle extra batter over items already placed in oil. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • For dipping sauce, mix water and hondashi together to make a broth. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Remove shrimp and vegetables from oil and place on platter with paper doily. Garnish with parsley, lemon wedge, and cherry tomato for color. Serve with dipping sauce.
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