Fact #1: Deep-fried food is wonderful when done right.
Fact #2: Where food is concerned, the Japanese ALWAYS do it right. And then some.
Deep fried crab leg? Yes please!
Our tempura meal at Tenichi was something of a life-changing experience, not least because I’d previously found it entirely unthinkable to pay upwards of SGD100 for a meal comprising fried food. You think you know what tempura tastes like, then you try it in Japan and then you never want to eat the rubbish that poses as tempura in Southeast Asia, ever again.
This restaurant came highly recommended by James’ colleague who’d lived in Japan for some years. We really enjoyed a previous tempura meal (at a chain restaurant, no less) so we thought it would be worthwhile to splurge on something like this to see how much better it could get.
I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to anyone that it was SO much better than any fried food I’ve ever eaten. I usually scoff at such hyperbole, but seriously, the food in Japan genuinely warrants all sorts of superlatives.
Now let’s hand this post over to the photos.
A simple little place setting. Crisp side salad, salt and lemon, dipping sauce with grated radish, and a dried pickled thing I never got around to because the tempura started arriving fresh out of the oil fryer.
Here’s our tempura chef. His name was 小熊. He preps and fries everything right in the centre of the U-shaped counter, though you don’t get to see the food actually in the fryer because of the hood that keeps the smoke and grease away from the diners.
Just some of the beautiful fresh food that was battered and fried for our lunch.
A quick selfie while waiting for the first items in our lunch. I think James was a little distracted watching the chef do his thing…
What happens when you take really fresh prawns, coat them in a light batter and fry them till the batter is crisp and fluffy? Magic. I even ate the prawn tails.
Everything starts to look the same when it’s been battered and fried so I won’t post everything, but here is just one more pic of the seafood: a whole sea eel, fried to perfection before being chopped into thirds for ease of eating. This has ruined me for eel forever; unagi don can go to hell for all I care.
It was an additional 2,000 yen to add fruit to the meal, which sounds preposterous until you recall that a whole melon in Japan’s supermarkets can cost anything from SGD80 and up. Japan takes its fruit really seriously: everything is bred to be super sweet and juicy. So of course we had to try the melon, just this once.
Look at me, all crazed with anticipation. It was possibly for the best that they sat us in this cozy alcove after the main meal, to sip tea and tuck into fruit in a separate corner from the other diners still enjoying their tempura. The happy sounds I made at my melon might have put them off their lunch.
We scraped those suckers down to the rind with the long-handled sporks provided. James and I both really wanted to lick the melon juice off our plates, but the next table was occupied by a trio of respectable and elegant-looking middle-aged folks wearing kimonos.