Tasty Tempura at Tenya – Tokyo’s cheap restaurant chain
Alongside sushi, tempura is Japan’s most known speciality dish.
Softly battered and instantly deep fried veggies or seafood are served on rice in a rice bowl (tendon), with soba noodles, or simply as a side dish.
Japan is known for keeping its food fresh despite the frying, tempura is truly Japanese when the taste of the vegetables is preserved and only lightly coated with a delicious layer of batter.
Probably the best tempura deal in Tokyo can be devoured at Tempura Tendon Tenya 天丼てんや.
Tenya is the Japanese specialist for tempura. A cheap restaurant chain with a very nice choice of tempura.
Vegetarian friendly. And you will not spend more than 500 to 1000 yen for a good meal.
We went to Tenya in Nippori.
Location: 2-19-7 Nishinippori | Tochu Bldg, Arakawa, Tokyo.
There is a list of all restaurant locations on Tenya’s official website (in English!).
This is the entrance to our Tenya tempura experience. Notice the free plastic covers for drippy umbrellas in the right corner. No mess inside the restaurant. I am always amazed at how efficient Japanese customs are.
Japanese restaurants might seem overwhelming at first but don’t fret and give it a go. The picture menus are an easy way to order. Just point to what you like. Prices are prominently displayed next to each dish.
We went for the all star tendon bowl. Puls, no cholesterol.
The tempura landed on our rice bowls crisp and hot.
We also ordered a cooling side dish of tofu for only 100 yen.
You can dip the tempura in soy sauce. Focus so as not to let it slip into the whole sauce (note to self).
A starter that we rarely miss is miso soup, which you drink straight from the bowl.
The flavour of each ingredient was perfectly sealed into the battery mantle. We had prawn, eggplant, squid, green beans, pumpkin and renkon (lotus root).
In the above picture, the left piece is a fake!
Can you tell which one is real and which is the model?
I am actually not sure any more, if this piece of pumpkin tempura was real or not! But the side radish was delicious.
I was surprised to learn that tempura was originally brought by the Portuguese in the 16th century, yet it has vanished from Portugal’s kitchens and cookbooks.
Whereas in Japan, the Portuguese dish was changed to suit Japanese palates.
For hundreds years on and tempura has evolved into a Japanese signature dish.
Hence, to try Portugal’s tempura version, we went to an Asian restaurant in Lisbon and paid a lot more than we would in Tokyo.
At Tenya, we paid 1540 yen for a tempura set and a drink each (if not for the beer the bill would have been about half that sum). Oh, and hot green tea is complimentary, as usual in Japanese restaurants. Bargain.
Yummy and won’t take much out of your wallet.
If hunger exceeds your pockets in Japan, I recommend you try the Japanese chain restaurant for cheap and delish Italian food, too!
BTW, we are in Rome now. Eating our way through pasta and pizza.