Tempura is arguably one of the most well-loved Japanese foods globally, together with other culinary exports such as sushi and ramen. That said, it’s not really easy to find tempura that’s crisp and soft like a cloud, at least not in Singapore.
Lucky for us, Japan’s #1 tendon restaurant Tempura Tendon Tenya – or more fondly known as Tenya – has just arrived on our shores three weeks ago (on 15 October, to be exact) and AVENUE ONE had the opportunity to indulge in the eatery’s delicious, fried-to-perfection tempura dishes at its first 68-seater store in Singapore that’s located downtown in Orchard Central.
Tenya, a long-standing Japanese eatery, brings a slice of Japan to Singapore
Founded in 1989 in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, the tempura specialist has earned a loyal following for its range of authentic quality, value-for-money meals locally in Japan as well as internationally.
Over the past few decades, Tenya has grown its presence to 226 stores (and counting!) all over Japan as well as in the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and has now made its mark in Singapore this year.
Apart from being decorated with various Japanese references throughout the space, the flagship restaurant in Orchard Central also features two sensor-navigated robots – AVENUE ONE learnt that they’re adorably known as Peanut 1 and Peanut 2 – that are programmed to deliver food to the tables and a statue of Uncle Ten, Tenya’s mascot, which stands at 1.4 metres at the entrance.
The well-rounded menu features a variety of Japanese comfort food, including Tenya’s signature tendon, a donburi bowl of lightly battered, crispy seafood, meat or vegetable tempura sitting on top of steaming Japanese Aomori rice with an umami glazing sauce (called tendon tare) drizzled over.
Other favourites include the Japanese soba and udon noodles that complement an array of meat and vegetable tempura for a perfect marriage of textures and flavours.
You’d be happy to know that most of the ingredients used at Tenya are carefully sourced from long-standing quality producers in Japan, some of which are century-old and trusted with customising secret blends of tempura flour, tare, and togarashi chilli for a delightful taste that is unique to Tenya
Not only that, Tenya also incorporates a patented automatic fryer, which uses infrared heater to cook tempura at a much faster pace and in greater quantity without sacrificing the overall taste.
This exclusive machine not only allows Tenya to serve up delectable, cooked-to-order tendon at very affordable prices but it also uses only two minutes to fry up impeccably crisp tempura each time – impressive!
What to order from Tenya Singapore
Kick off your meal with plates of small bites such as Tomato Salad (S$5.80) and Tamagoyaki (S$3.90).
The refreshing Japanese tomato lightly doused with sesame dressing was literally a taste party in our mouths with a well-balanced combination of sweetness and tanginess from the tomato plus nutty goodness from the goma dressing.
We also sampled a plate of Kinoko Gomaae (S$3.90), which was a cold mix of Japanese shimeji mushroom and spinach.
You’d want to add a cup of Chawanmushi (S$2.50) to your order too – eating the silky, tender, and umami-packed egg custard felt like a mini treasure hunt for us as we dug into it to get to the juicy fresh prawn, fish cake, chicken, shiitake, and crab stick.
After tickling your taste buds with Tenya’s appetisers, it’s time to move on to the main course. Crustacean lovers, you won’t be disappointed with the Prawn Tendon (S$11.90) which is a bowl of tempura prawns, pumpkin, shimeji, and French beans.
Some tempura restaurants out there send out heavily battered ingredients – an attempt to create the illusion of larger ingredient pieces, perhaps? – but not Tenya.
The fresh seafood and vegetables are coated just enough to be deep fried, so believe us when we say that you won’t be left feeling like you’re eating tempura batter more than the actual ingredients.
Feeling peckish? Go big and make it a set meal, where you can customise the amount of rice you want and then add on your favourite cold or hot noodles. And yes, the portion of your soba or udon noodles is customisable as well.
Best part? Tenya’s set meals start from just S$9.90, so you’re definitely getting the most bang for your buck here.
For the ultimate Tenya experience, you can’t go wrong with the signature Tenya Tendon (S$8.50) which is loaded with tempura Black Tiger Prawn, red fish, squid, pumpkin, and French beans.
Don’t feel like having seafood? Fret not, Tenya also has a variety of rice bowls to offer, including Tori Tendon (S$9.90) – that’s tempura chicken, chicken karaage, tempura egg, pumpkin, and sweet potato all in one bowl.
During the media tasting, we learnt that this bowl of poultry goodness is actually created exclusively for Singapore and can’t even be found in any of the outlets in Japan – how cool is that?!
Those looking for meat-free options can relish in the Mushroom Vegetables Tendon (S$7.90) instead, which will get you a mix of tempura mushrooms (shiitake, shimeji, and enoki), sweet potato, lotus root, pumpkin and French beans.
Soba and udon noodles (in your choice of cold or hot temperature) served with the same mouth-watering tempura are also available on the menu (from S$11.90) if non-rice dishes are right up your alley.
Be sure to round up your meal with any of Tenya’s dessert selection – our tasting session ended perfectly with the Hokkaido Soft Serve which lets you enjoy 100% creamy Hokkaido milk for only S$2 nett!
The same milky ice cream is also served with the Brownie (S$6.90) and IBC Root Beer Float (S$4.90), so you can opt for those if you’re craving for extra dessert indulgence. For a more Japanese-inspired dessert, don’t leave without trying the Matcha Azuki Cake (S$5.80)!
For the time being, the restaurant’s seating capacity has been slightly reduced to meet the government’s safety management measures so it can accommodate fewer customers at the moment.
In fact, we were pleasantly surprised to see the positive reception of Tenya even though it’s only opened for less than a month – there was already a 60-minute waiting time when we arrived at the restaurant at 12.30pm!
So heed our advice – go early if you want to avoid the hungry crowd and dig into a delicious bowl of tendon comfortably.
Tenya is located at 181 Orchard Road, #B1-01, Orchard Central, Singapore 238896. The Japanese eatery opens daily from 11am to 10pm. Visit Tenya’s website or Instagram for more information and updates, or call 6509 6838 to enquire.
Photos courtesy of writer and Tenya.