Tenya is a famous Tempura restaurant chain in Japan, and it opened up in Southmall this October. Being the Japanese food afficionado that I am, I was naturally drawn to test it and reveal my findings to humanity for great science.
The thing I love about Japanese food is that it tends to taste very clean. Even though I am allergic to shrimp, I have never once had an allergy attack when eating shrimps in Japanese cuisine, whether it’s tempura, sushi, or whatever. So here I went ahead and tested out their specialty: the Asakusa Special Tendon Bowl.
What exactly is a Tendon? It’s not that thing connecting your your muscles to your bones. It’s actually a portmanteau of Tempura and Donburi. Tempura as we all know is the nice tasty shrimps fried in batter. Donburi is a class of Japanese foods characterized as toppings served in rice bowls. A “don” (丼) is a bowl.
And yes, it’s typically spelled “Tendon” and not “Temdon,” and that has to do with the imperfect romanization of a language that works with a different alphabet. The Japanese “n” is actually halfway between ‘m’ and ‘n’ and could go either way, but this is a food blog and not a linguist blog so I’ll leave it at that.
So, where is this heavenly Tendon? Here!
The Asakusa Tendon. It’s a bit pricey, you get three pieces of tempura on your rice bowl and some miso. The house tea is always available for drinking. But after trying it, I was impressed! The very clean taste, it’s a very delicately battered and fried tempura. There is no fishy taste, just a clean shrimp flavor with a light batter.
The rice is what makes this special: it’s really top class rice and you can tell. It’s soft, stick, easy to eat with chopsticks, and has a strong earthy rice flavor. It’s Japan’s finest rice, koshihikari rice, and it’s really excellent for donburi.
The flavor is very mild, though. Tenya does not season the food very strongly. But you can really taste the flavor of the ingredients as a result. This is the classic style of Japanese cooking that emphasizes minimal handling of the ingredients so you can showcase the flavor and quality of the ingredient. Well, there are condiments on the side like more sauce, chili powder, and the like if you want to, but as is you can experience the purity and quality of the shrimp, rice and batter.
Still, despite the quality of the shrimp, I wanted to be sure and ordered a chicken dish in case I got allergic to the shrimp. Here is the Chicken Mayo Tendon.
As with the Asakusa Tempura, this chicken tempura is very mildly flavored. The chicken fillets are very fine, soft and juicy but not heavily flavored. It’s battered and fried in the same way, along with some kakiage style vegetables (green beans) fried as well, finished with some corn on the side and the koshihikari rice.
Again, you get a mild delicate taste and get the opportunity to reconnect with what chicken actually tastes like. There’s some Japanese mayo on top to add some extra tones of flavor, but if you want more taste you add with the condiments on the side.
Finally, being a cheeselover, I also ordered this Isobe Cheese Tempura.
It just goes to show: fermenting your food makes it tasty! As the only “non-fresh” ingredient, aged cheddar is naturally tasty without additional handling. It’s sliced and wrapped in nori, then deep fried in the batter, resulting in this awesome tasting snack. You get to dip it with some mayonnaise in case you need to temper the saltiness of the cheese.
This was my favorite, being the flavor junkie that I am. I found the two main donburi dishes to be a little too light and delicate for my tastes, but this cheese hit the spot. I loved the saltiness of the cheddar, gooey from the frying, and it was balanced out by the wonderful nori that is sweet and has its unique savory flavor. I loved it, and I highly recommend this.
For some great tempura and donburi, I recommend this restaurant. It’s not the most flavorful option, but if you want to try classical Japanese cooking which brings out the flavor of the ingredient, this will give you that kind of experience. I have to admit that even though I prefer strong flavors, I didn’t feel left out eating the delicate donburis.
They were just that level of quality.
This outlet of Tenya is found at the Food Street of SM Southmall in Las Pinas.