For the love of Tempura.
Filipinos' love for seafood, specifically shrimps or prawns, goes beyond halabos and sinigang. For every cuisine, there's some kind of a shrimp dish that Filipinos love. And there's one Japanese dish that Pinoys can't resist: ebi or shrimp tempura. Well at least for people who are not allergic to the crustacean.
Tempura is a deep fried dish (prawns, fish, vegetables, and other ingredients, in light and crunchy batter) served with a soy sauce-based dip. It goes perfect with plain white rice or fried rice. It's a simple yet delicious dish that Filipinos absolutely love. That's why it's not surprising that a restaurant like Tenya has become a favorite among tempura-loving Pinoys.
Tenya is a tempura and tendon restaurant from Japan. In fact, it is Japan's leading tempura and tendon shop, named after the tempura rice bowl called tendon or tempura donburi. The restaurant opened its first shop in the Philippines in 2015. It has since expanded into multiple branches, having just recently opened its ninth branch at Tiendesitas in Pasig City.
"The Tenya brand in Japan is known for tendon or tempura donburi as well as its tempura. It has made a name for itself in Japan by providing tempura rice bowls with a special sauce called don tare," explains Cavallino Inc. managing director Chukri Prieto. "It's a superstar brand, very well-known tempura restaurant in Japan. Really good quality and price."
Cavallino, Inc. is the company behind the successful steak and ribs restaurant Racks. And Tenya has become a very successful brand for the company. It mainly owes its success to Filipinos' love for Japanese food.
"Definitely [it's because] there's rice and secondly because Filipinos love Japanese food. We are very familiar and knowledgeable of what Japanese food is. Filipinos identify it with its quality and I think we offer all that at a very affordable price," Chukri says.
Tenya's tendon is priced between P200 and P350 and the serving size is big enough to fill up one person. And what makes its tendon different from others is the special don tare sauce. "Aside from the dipping sauce that everybody knows about tempura, the don tare sauce was specifically made for a tempura rice bowl," says Chukri. "It's slightly different in a way that it's sweeter and goes really well with the rice and the tempura."
The new branch at Tiendesitas is its biggest restaurant yet. Located on the ground floor of the mall, it can accommodate up to 120 people. There is a second floor that can be converted into a private function area as well as an al fresco area to give room to more diners.
The design is inspired by traditional all-wood Japanese buildings. The fiberglass sconces and hanging lighting fixtures are like white paper lanterns while the Japanese restaurant flag signs hang from window awnings.
"We chose this location because it's close to the market we like-- the villages, the offices, and schools around here," explains Tenya general manager Edmundo Ramos.
For its menu, nothing has changed except for seasonal offerings. The restaurant has just concluded its Ultimate Crab Tendon promo, which offered a big bowl of tempura softshell crab, crablets, crab claw, and vegetables on white rice served with a thick aligue (crab fat) sauce.
But some of the restaurant's most popular dishes include the All-Star Tendon (prawn, squid, salmon, kani stick, green beans, and mushroom), Teishoku sets (choice of tempura served with rice, and choice of potato salad and soup or hot/cold udon/ soba), TempuRamen (tonkotsu ramen topped with ground pork, prawn tempura, green beans, and eggplant), and the Sriracha Tempura Maki (tempura maki with mango, cream cheese, kani topped with tempura batter flakes and an original Sriracha sauce.
To ensure quality, Tenya only sources its ingredients from reputable and reliable local suppliers. The Philippine franchise has maintained its quality because the principal company from Japan does surprise audits every after two months.
"Our Japanese counterparts are very strict. We get suprise audits almost every other month. So there are no shortcuts to what we're doing," says Cavallino Inc. director of operations Denise Ramos. "I'd like to see at least two to three more branches this year, if we can," Chukri says.
Tenya ground floor Tiendesitas, Pasig City / www.tenya.com.ph / Facebook and Instagram @tenyaph
TURNING JAPANESE Tenya opens its ninth branch at Tiendesitas in Pasig City
Denise Ramos, Chukri Prieto, Edmundo Ramos, and Noboyuki Aoki