Tasting Notes

Batter Up With This Food Joint

Tempura is a Japanese dish made out of battered seafood or vegetables. Battered as in coated and deep-fried hindi binugbog, aight? Not to be confused with furai, tempura doesn’t use breadcrumbs. It usually goes with tentsuyu or ten-don, two dipping sauces na akala ng karamihan tempura sauce lang tawag. Tentsuyu is made from three to four parts dashi soup stock to one part mirin and one part soy sauce. If you add sugar to it, it becomes ten-don.

The origin of tempura goes back to the mid-16th century when our Portuguese bros introduced batter frying as well as Catholicism (killer combo!) to the people of Nagasaki. The term is derived from the latin word tempora, which refers to the phrase “quattuor anni tempora” meaning “Ember of Days” (Lent, pare). In accordance to the abstinence and fasting rule of the Catholic, they would eat tempura instead of meat.

Kanō Naizen’s painting of the Portuguese unloading their black ships in 16th Century Nagasaki.

This food is also the favorite of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo era. Bakit nga ba? We visited Asukasa Home of Tempura in their third and newest branch in Ayala Malls Feliz to find out. The homegrown Japanese restaurant boasts of its bestselling tempura that’s light and fried to crisp perfection.

Eto yung mga sinubukan namin, ’pre:

Pang emperador na kainan, the lavish Emperor Set has two huge black tiger prawns, scallop, shitake mushroom, kani, fish, zucchini, and French beans.

Para sa mga mandirigma, the Samurai Set is a smaller serving of black tiger prawn, fish, squid, eggplant, squash, and French beans.

Another must-try is the Uni Tempura. The nori contrasts with the sea urchin’s creamy sometimes gelatinous texture.

Apart from tempura, Asakusa’s Wagyuni piqued our interest. It’s a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth dish of torched wagyu beef on top of sushi rice, finished with sea urchin and fish eggs.

The restaurant serves two types of sauces for their tempura: the Asakusa, which is a house specialty, and the traditional tempura sauce. The former is thicker in consistency and sweeter on the taste buds, while the latter is lighter in flavor due to the light soy sauce refreshed with ginger and radish.

(L-R) Asukasa and traditional tempura sauce.

As a welcoming treat to their customers, Asakusa is also offering a Buy 1 Shogun 5, Get 1 Shogun 3 for free.

The new store is located at the 3rd level of Ayala Malls Feliz, Santolan, Pasig, and is open every Mon-Thurs 10AM-9PM and Fri-Sun 10AM-10PM. For more information visit their website asakusa.com.ph

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