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M Tempura

4.6

111 Orange St
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: (919) 748-3874
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Google Reviews

Photo of David Negron David Negron
Mar 31, 2022 5

Absolutely loved it. Service was spot on, and the food was phenomenal. Best katsu I’ve had outside of Japan. Will be back!

Photo of Pearl Singhal Pearl Singhal
Apr 3, 2022 5

We tried the Tempura tasting menu. I'm a vegetarian and they very graciously made vegetarian substitutes for me. The food and sides were absolutely delicious and our server was very knowledgeable and sweet. Great experience - would 10/10 visit when I'm in town again.

Photo of QQ M QQ M
Mar 11, 2022 4

I had a great time here! It was truly an experience with the Omakase tempura course. It was a lot food many not pictured! I think it's expensive but it was a good experience. The seafoods were very delicious. I really liked the braised spicy Nero sea bass, daikon and rice.

Photo of Juliana Young Juliana Young
May 29, 2021 5

Everything was very fresh and tasted amazing. We did the testing menu and left very full and extremely satisfied. The service was wonderful; very friendly and knowledgeable. I highly suggest the tasting menu if you are a somewhat adventurous eater.

Photo of Victor Cheung Victor Cheung
Oct 31, 2021 5

Very good katsu pork. A traditional Japanese restaurant. BTW, they have the most beautiful and cozy restroom I've ever seen.

Photo of Steve Wells Steve Wells
Dec 9, 2021 5

This was exceptional. Sitting at the bar is like going to a chef's table. Everything was perfectly prepared and the menu was structured to give a great variety of complicated tastes.

Photo of Andrea Moore Andrea Moore
Jan 11, 2022 5

Top-notch dining experience! A great place for a date night. The food was exquisite and the service was wonderful (thank you, Claire!). We ordered the kaiseki meal for our table of two, and were in awe of the flavors. Every single course was unique and delicious. We were thoroughly impressed. The bar has been raised.

Photo of clody rountree clody rountree
Dec 22, 2020 5

unique and interesting courses that flowed logically into each other. worth a visit.

Photo of Alex Galifianakis Alex Galifianakis
Dec 18, 2020 5

Great experience. Wonderfully authentic Tempora. Colorful presentation, with delightful staff. Warm homey atmosphere with downtown Durham coolness. I was only disappointed with their soft drink selection, but plenty of wine and sake to make up for it. A great place for an evening out.

Photo of David Vasta David Vasta
Nov 7, 2020 5

Wish I took a picture!! The food was amazing!!! Small courses Served a little at a time. But you get full!!! There's plenty of food by the time you're done!! Amazing flavors!!

Photo of Stephanie Goss Stephanie Goss
Oct 10, 2020 5

Food and service was outstanding! Highly recommend and we definitely look forward to our next visit very soon!

Photo of Michael Tribett Michael Tribett
Sep 28, 2020 4

Really amazing experience! Great food, I was a bit turned off by the over use of daikon radish, especially because, for some reason it had a very off taste, almost like dirty dish water, I think the daikon they were using may have started to go bad. Overall though, amazing experience!!! Highly recommend it!

Photo of Stephen Glaeser Stephen Glaeser
Oct 2, 2020 5

I just wrote a glowing review of M Tempura on M Sushi's account! But both are amazing. M never disappoints!

Photo of Melanie Panko Melanie Panko
Sep 26, 2020 5

This was a unique dining experience for me and I enjoyed it so much! You select a set and the staff will bring you your courses at the pace you are eating. My husband and I are foodies and we absolutely loved how each piece of our appetizer/tempura/dessert/pallet cleanser was different and tasty. We were so impressed with this place! I highly recommend!

Photo of Arthur Goudey Arthur Goudey
Mar 2, 2019 5

Absolutely delicious. Every bite we had was awesome and they have a great sake selection too!

Photo of Jason Valentine Jason Valentine
Aug 4, 2020 5

I service there dishwasher in the back and they keep the place REALLY CLEAN! AMAZING food at that.

Photo of Rebecca Murison Rebecca Murison
Mar 14, 2020 5

This place is absolutely five star. I was with a group of four we sat at a beautiful wood table as each part of the meal was brought to us with an explanation for each few items. It was fantastic. I love this place and would totally go again. Very indie and hip. Very Durham.

Photo of Gina Difino Gina Difino
Mar 7, 2020 5

Expecting anything less than excellence and delightful surprise from the M restaurant group would bee foolish. Each bite was flavorful and surprising. The presentation and service were just wonderful, as always. Highly recommended! Would have been fun to sit at the bar to watch some of the tempura being battered and fried.

Photo of Ed Ed
Feb 7, 2020 5

Amazing, 5.0! Really enjoyed our dinning experience at the bar. Great service and food!

Photo of Brandon Brandon
Feb 12, 2020 5

Absolutely outstanding traditional menu in an intimate setting. Pricy and the service takes its time, but that's the point. Well worth the time and money.

Photo of Joe M Joe M
Sep 15, 2019 3

First off I would like to say that I would rate this 3.5 starts if I could, but given the choice between 3 or 4 stars, I couldn’t come up with enough reasons to rate it higher. The pros: The food and ambiance is good, I liked the small intimate setting. They have tables and seating around the cooking station. As some have mentioned, there is a fry oil smell in the air, so I was glad to be at a table. I didn’t think the smell was anywhere near as bad as some people described however. The wait staff was all very professional and attentive. They described the food and setting very well and I would rate them highly. The food was good, but I didn’t think it was great. The tempura batter is very light and is not over whelming or heavy, which I liked. I had the basic set and it came with a salad with some carrots, cauliflower and greens with a ginger dressing. The salad and dressing were very good, but it needed something else to make it better. Another crunchy vegetable would have helped. The white rice is just that. The excitement for the rice is a perfectly cooked egg on top. This seems to have been some type of deep fried egg and it is not a typical fried egg you may be thinking of. If you like eggs, this one was great. The ginger ice cream was fantastic. Mediocre: The tempura itself was hit or miss. Several pieces were not hot. They are all 1 or 2 bites each. There is a dipping sauce that I found underwhelming and salt available (and needed) to add for flavor. The sea bass, scallop and shrimp were all good. Some of the vegetables were better than others. Only the eggplant was hot. Everything else quite cool. In general I found the tempura fine, but not special. Portions are quite small. We left filled, and the portion for us was OK. Others may be disappointed, especially in lieu of the price. Summary; In general the meal was average. Some food cold or lukewarm. The prices are quite high for the experience and food. With a bottle of wine and tip we were at about $150; and we each had the lowest priced dinner. There is not enough variety here to keep me coming back. I felt that for the price I could find much better dining options. This seems to fall into that category of places that get some sort of cult following. Someone says it is great and like sheep the reviews follow. Bon Appetite recently mentioned them, which likely will drive that opinion even higher. I didn’t feel the meal lived up to the hype. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as good as the reviews or price paid.

Photo of Susan Montani Susan Montani
Feb 5, 2020 4

Great "experience" (& that's what this place is about), very fresh food. Reason 4 vs. 5.... Not sure how impressed I am with being handed one sliced vegetable at a time for $$$, even though I do appreciate fine dining & can as often as I'd like. My one $6 scallop had an iodine taste. Hate when my clothes reek of grease after dining.

Photo of Zach Goldstein Zach Goldstein
Jan 16, 2020 5

Excellent food and very friendly staff. I just wish the portions were a bit larger. That being said by the time I had finished the last course I left full and happy.

Photo of Jaime Maxwell Jaime Maxwell
Oct 24, 2019 5

Cute little spot somewhat tucked away from the main road. The food was fantastic (I had the cheese katsu and now want nothing more than a food nap), the service was prompt, efficient, and friendly, and the a e s t h e t i c was simple and comfortable. Would definitely love to come back and try their dinner set sometime.

Photo of Nicole S Nicole S
Sep 3, 2019 5

This is a great spot if you’d like to have a food experience. As with M Sushi, everything is very fresh and delicious!

Photo of Brooklyn C Brooklyn C
Sep 10, 2019 5

WOW! Some of the best Japanese food I've had in the US and by far the best in NC. There's also a super sweet lunch with beautiful katsus! What a discovery this sweet little gem is for me.

Photo of Zachary Bennett Zachary Bennett
Oct 17, 2019 5

Excellent meal with excellent service. One of the most unique and interesting dining experiences I've had in Durham. Come with an appetite!

Photo of Jerry Helmcke Jerry Helmcke
Sep 10, 2019 5

Beautifully prepared and well executed tempura! Tempura is lightly fried and not oily. The fish was so fresh and there were so many unexpected bites! Pro tip: sit at the bar!

Photo of Kathleen Koechling Kathleen Koechling
Sep 23, 2019 5

We chose the "basic set" for $29. Flavors were delicate to intense, all perfectly balanced. Different sauces provided variety in every bite. Tiny portions of many different items were surprisingly filling. Lovely presentation.

Photo of Sean Chaney Sean Chaney
Jul 17, 2019 5

i love all of the Michael Lee restaurants. especially this once since my favorite food in the world is pork tonkatsu.

Photo of Kyle Johnson Kyle Johnson
Mar 14, 2019 5

Just be aware that this is "Omakase" Style food. This means the chef has 3 or so preset meals that you can choose from but ultimately, it is somewhat limited. But it is great food. Reservation Reccomended. The tempura is not seasoned and you are invited to add your own when they bring it to you. Deceptively more food than it appears to be

Photo of Elizabeth T Elizabeth T
Nov 12, 2018 5

Classy & innovative. A chic experience dining tempura as I've never experienced before. Great flavors and presentation. Eat everything with your eyes, and some with your mouth, and enjoy! Staff was all great, too. You need reservations to sit at the bar! Next time, I'll try that!

Photo of Anamaria Radulian Anamaria Radulian
Apr 10, 2019 5

One of the best meals we've had in a long time. The food was amazing, each course was perfect. The Tempura scallops are to die for (and our waiter graciously hooked us up with a 2nd round of them since we loved them so much!). The service was exceptional. We'll definitely be returning for more!

Photo of Lauren Nye Lauren Nye
May 11, 2019 5

Truly a unique and amazing dining experience! Allow for plenty of time to appreciate the pacing of tempura dishes. We loved sitting at the bar, and since it is a small space I would recommend making a reservation to accomplish that. Great for a special occasion, and to learn about a specialty cuisine. Will look forward to coming again!

Photo of Angie Shen Angie Shen
Jun 11, 2019 4

Very authentic Japanese food and this place is small but adorable. I love their pork but the tonkatsu sauce and the slaw are too salty. It’s also n the high end. That being said, I would still love to try their other food!

Photo of Michael Hill Michael Hill
May 7, 2022 5

Some of the best bites I have had in ages. Listen to the staff, follow the palate cleansers as suggested. Did the Original Tempura menu. The Sea Bass was perfection and it had the second best scallop I have ever had. Watching Savannah cook was a thing of beauty. Her multitasking and demeanor were top notch.

Photo of Lucy Ruderman Lucy Ruderman
May 6, 2022 5

Really fun and delicious dinner. We did the M Omakase and really enjoyed it and left feeling more than stuffed. Make reservations well in advance and reserve seating at the bar- then the tempura chef puts each piece directly on your plate in front of you (come out fresher than if you’re seated at a table).

Photo of Manisit Das Manisit Das
Apr 8, 2022 5

Loved the food here, and did not have a wait which was awesome too. Everything we had was very delicious and flavorful. Next time definitely want to try more of the tempuras. We only tried the scallops and it was amazing. The staff is extremely kind and pleasant. Would certainly be back!

Photo of Ali Franzen Ali Franzen
Jun 7, 2022 5

We loved m tempura. We got the omakase and each set of dishes was interesting and delicious. Seafood heavy which we loved. The food was crafted with care and we’d go again for sure.

Photo of sparrowmedrama sparrowmedrama
Jun 13, 2022 4

The atmosphere and food was perfect for a date night. The first course of small dishes were delicious and there wasn’t a bite we didn’t like. The tempura course was light, crispy, and food was perfectly cooked. Overall, we can’t wait to go back to try their ramen!

Photo of Zhengjie Miao Zhengjie Miao
Jul 13, 2022 5

Enjoyed watching the chef cook. The dishes are amazing. We went to all M restaurants and this is our favorite.

Photo of April H April H
Aug 4, 2022 4

Really cool concept. Our server Daniel was outstanding! Very attentive and knowledgeable. The seaweed salad with arugula was our favorite part as it was so delicious and filled with great flavor. Some of the tempura options we loved and others were just ok. The avocado tempura was delicious and they have great sake. The restaurant is quaint and intimate. It's best to have a reservation but sometimes walk ins can be accommodated. As others have stated, it's a nice spot for a date.

Photo of Wuliao Hao Wuliao Hao
Aug 27, 2022 5

Great experience. We had the $88 omakase. It worth the price. Tempura is crispy outside but juicy and fresh inside. Scallop with caviar on it is my favorite. Appetizer dishes was amazingly good too. Also the last dish with the fish and white rice is a nice ending. Dessert was refreshing and chilling.

Photo of Wesley Garrett Wesley Garrett
Jan 5, 2022 3

Huge disappointment and I say that as a classically trained, wordly traveled chef of 20 years!! With that said, we've (my fiance, I, and family, as well as friends) have been going to M Sushi for years (which she and I frequent 6-8 times a year) and due to the reviews, my fiance and I decided to try M Tempura and their chef inspired 10 course New Years Eve menu ($125 per person, which tirned out to be $307 with taxes, tip and 2 cocktails). It was nothing I would recommend to anyone.. However you can get a much more elaborate, colorful, adventurous, and decadent menu at M Sushi for $80 which is $45 less PER PERSON!!! Again, I'm a classically trained chef of 20 years and this was at best, average/ mediocre food that I could get at just about any Tempura restaurant. The worst part is, my fiance and I both had stomach aches later that evening/ the following day which is absurd! The other bad part is that anyone who goes into a restaurant like this wants to see someone of some Asain, Chinese, or Japanese descent behind the line and it was just a bunch of college kids that thought they could cook.. Maybe one of them actually had a degree from a culinary institute as I could see some artistic value in the dishes but again, I wasn't impressed. I hate to say it but if you see any 5 star reviews, they must be a good ol' North Carolina native that doesn't know good food from the back of their hand.. lol 🤣 I am going to show 8-9 pictures of our M Tempura menu/ experience and then I will add 8-9 more from M Sushi and you will easily see the difference in food, experience, and artistry! The M Sushi menu starts with a beautiful, bright salmon dish in a dark colored bowl.. We will not return to M Tempura until the owner(s) make some significant changes, nor would I ever recommend to go spend the money you would on the food.. Chinese take-out from anywhere would have been better..