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Tempura Tendon Tenya

Restaurants, Japanese Orchard
Tenya Singapore
Photograph: Tenya SingaporePrawn tendon with cold soba
Tenya Singapore
Photograph: Tenya Singapore

Time Out says

Affordable tendon bowls made using a special tempura-frying machine

The art of tempura-making typically takes years to master. In Japan, artisan chefs dedicate years, sometimes an entire lifetime, to honing their ways with the deep-fryer. But over at Tempura Tendon Tenya, one of Japan’s top tendon chains, the entire process has been condensed down to just two minutes.

It works by utilising a special air fryer, an automated conveyor belt-looking machine that can churn out consistently crisp tempura – over 1,000 pieces in under an hour. Without the need for an experienced chef, the kitchens of Tenya can serve up properly prepped tempura in a shorter duration, and at greater quantities. The result: highly affordable tendon bowls. At the chain’s first Singapore outpost, a set of its famed rice bowl, accompanied with soba or udon, can go for just under $12.

And luckily, its wallet-friendly price tag doesn’t come at the expense of the food quality. Every bowl is prepped fresh upon order, and most ingredients are sourced from the same suppliers as those used in all its outlets in Japan. Filtered water is first used to prep the batter, and ingredients are dunked and fried in temperature-controlled oil. Each piece then travels under an infra-red heater – a crucial step that dries up excess oil, resulting in crispy parcels that taste light yet crunchy. A drizzle of its umami-packed tare sauce, made with grilled eel essence, completes the dish.

For a sampling of what Tenya has to offer, consider the namesake tendon ($8.50), a signature bowl crowned with prawn, red fish, squid, pumpkin, and french beans. There’s also a seafood tendon ($12.90) filled with prized catch of black tiger prawn, anago, scallop, red fish, pumpkin, and French beans. Exclusive to Singapore is the tori tendon ($9.90), which comes with chicken, karaage, tempura egg, pumpkin, and sweet potato. Hungry? Turn each bowl into a hearty set meal, with accompaniments of soba and udon (from $2), served either warm or cold, and a bowl of miso soup. Here’s a tip for those looking to cut down on carbs: opt for the less rice option and shave $0.50 off the price of each bowl.

Sides on the menu include the tori karaage ($4.90), tomato salad ($5.80), and chawanmushi ($2.50). Remember to save space for desserts, too. The soft serve, made with creamy Hokkaido milk, goes for just $2. It also comes served alongside a slice of warm brownie ($6.90), or atop a root beer float ($4.90).

Beyond the automated tempura-frying machine hidden behind the kitchen, the tech-forward chain also employs the help of Peanut, a robot server, to help bring the food to the table. The main dining area also comes with a swanky ceiling display that sets the mood with picturesque scenery and cool graphic displays.


Address: #B1-01, Orchard Central
181 Orchard Rd
Opening hours: Daily 11am-10pm
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