From the team that brought you Ramen Keisuke and Hamburg Steak comes this Tendon dining concept in Tanjong Pagar that was opened in 2015.
Tendon Ginza Itsuki was the first to bring the concept of Tendon to Singapore. Located in Tanjong Pagar, this cosy, 24-seater restaurant offers only two main dishes – Special Tendon and Vegetable Tendon. Tendon Ginza Itsuki is a collaboration between Keisuke Group and chef-owner Mr Naoki Takaku of Ginza Itsuki Sushi.
Tendon 天丼 (short for Tempura Donburi 天ぷら丼ぶり) is sold in specialty shops in Japan, but this was the first one in Singapore. Of course since then, there were many others that opened up since Itsuki was so successful. At one point in time, the waiting time would go as long as 2 hours to eat in this hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
They used a combination of sesame oil and vegetable oil so there’s this nutty smell in the air. The ventilation in the shop was OK, but be warned you will smell like tempura after the meal. So if you are having an important meeting afterwards, this is not the place to have lunch.
All meals come with a chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) and a miso soup, but you can trade up the miso soup for a udon soup. The pickled cabbage was free flow and you can eat as much of it as you want.
The appeal of the udon soup was the sprinkling of the tempura fried batter which gave the simple stock crunch and added dimension. There was so much rice in the tendon, so the udon would be an overkill. But I was surprised the udon came before the tendon.
We all ordered the Special Tendon, which consisted of rice, with a choice of either a spicy or non-spicy tendon sauce, and the fried components: prawns, chicken, egg and assorted vegetables. Because of the long queue, everything was freshly fried.
The tempura was crispy and did not have an “old oil” musky taste in many poorer tempura restaurants. The non-spicy sauce was a sweet, tangy and savoury all at the same time and there was just enough of it to prevent the tempura from becoming soggy. There’s no separate dipping sauce like those tempura set meals in Washoku restaurants.
Simple and quick lunch, but be prepared for a lunchtime crowd and Tanjogn Pagar has pretty much returned pre-Covid norms.
Tendon Ginza Itsuki
101 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088522
Tel : +65 6221 6678
Visited Oct 2022