Tempura: Absolute guilty pleasure

Tempura is one of the most popular Japanese foods which is not surprising at all considering how delicious it is 😉

All kinds of seafood and vegetables enveloped in a crispy cloud of batter… Dipped in the sweet and salty sauce….

In case you haven’t figured it out already, today’s post will be all about tempura!




Have you ever wondered about the history of tempura and how it came to be a representative Japanese food?

Well it actually dates back to the 16th century and its origins can be found in the Portuguese method of deep frying with a wheat flour and egg batter. Before this,  Japanese fried food consisted of frying without any batter or with some rice flour. Tempura as we know it today came to be in the beginning of the 17th century along with the rise in popularity of yatai (food stalls).


Tempura at a restaurant in Kyoto


Tempura bowl or “Ten-don” in Japanese


Nowadays, tempura is consumed everywhere from fast food places to three Michelin star rated gourmet restaurants. Did you know that tempura batter is made with cold water and even gets ice cubes added to it to make sure it stays cold? This method prevents gluten from forming which creates a nice light and crispy coating. (source: Wikipedia)

Another interesting fact about tempura is the origination of the name. I always assumed that “tempura” is a Japanese word but it is actually from the Latin word “tempora” meaning times or times period. This word was used by the Portuguese and Spanish to refer to Christian holidays when they couldn’t eat red meat.


Tempura goes very well with soba


Once I’ve tried to made Tempura at home. Turned out my homemade tempura is not even close to what I’ve had in the restaurant plus it’s expensive and messy. Oil spilled everywhere and so hard to clean off (which is quite common when you cook deep fried food). Since then, whenever I want to eat tempura, I always choose to eat out.

There are few very good Tempura places in Shinjuku area which I would like to recommend in the blog today 😉


Tenkichiya (天吉屋)


Both counter seats and tables available


This restaurant is located in Shinjuku Nomura building (B2F) which is very close to my office. I’ve always been wanted to try tempura here but never get the chance until very recently. Usually it’s very crowded especially on weekdays during lunch time. Well, considered this building is in the business district and surrounded by office building, that’s not a surprise.

However, I found out that on weekends, there is no need to line up!

*Permission granted by  Tenkichiya shop manager to publish on TIC blog.


Tea and water for free
Menu with photos in English and Japanese


As you can see, the price is not bad at all. Tendon (Tempura donburi) for 1000 yen and the set with rice is 1250 yen.

900 yen bowl is the chicken tempura. If you are allergic to seafood, the chicken tempura bowl is highly recommended.

How-to eat tempura by Tenkichiya

  1. Eat plain tempura with tempura sauce (tentsuyu + crushed white raddish)
  2. Eat with tendon sauce
  3. Pour tea on top (called Ocha-zuke)


Ten-Kichi bowl 1000 yen served with Miso soup
Let me zoom-in for you


Tendon looks gigantic but actually the bowl is not very deep so rice proportion is just balanced with tempura. Still, because tempura is deep fried, you will feel quite stuffed after you finished the bowl.

My most favorite must be the prawn (ebi) tempura. I know I probably have to work out extra harder this week but hey, … what I can I say? Tempura is absolutely a guilty pleasure. You know it’s not good but you still want to eat it!


Ten-Mabushi 1250 yen (I only finished half the rice)
two ebi, some veggie and fish tempura



I’ve tried just simple tempura and one with tendon sauce. Next time, I will definitely try the Ocha-tsuke! I imagine it must taste like porridge but I might be wrong… >> Ocha-zuke



Shinjuku Nomura Building (B2F ) 5 mins walk from Shinjuku station West exit


That’s all for today, see you next post!






3 thoughts on “Tempura: Absolute guilty pleasure

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