Restaurant review: Tenshu Tempura & Sashimi whisks you to Japan
Like nearby Ippoh, this is a cosy place with very attentive service and delicious tempura with a light and delicate batter
It's impossible to avoid comparisons between Ippoh, the tempura restaurant on Aberdeen Street, and Tenshu, the tempura restaurant on Kau U Fong. Both are cosy (Ippoh has space for 12 - with eight at the tempura counter; Tenshu seats 14, with 10 at the counter).
With both, once you step past the sliding doors you feel like you're in Japan. Both have very attentive service, and - most importantly - the food they specialise in is done well.
For our dinner at Tenshu, we had the choice of three menus: one with 10 pieces of tempura (HK$780 plus 10 per cent), another with 15 pieces (HK$980) and the largest menu - 16 pieces of tempura, plus sashimi, for HK$1,280. All menus also included appetiser, a choice of tendon (tempura fritter over rice) or tencha (tempura fritter in tea), plus dessert. We went for the middle-priced menu.
Onsen tamago with dashi jelly and rose petal was a lovely, light starter - the egg yolk was soft and oozy, and the jelly was cooling.
Highlights of the 15-piece tempura selection were kuruma ebi, which was barely cooked so the prawn had soft flesh, with the crunchy head fried separately; a delicately crisp maitake mushroom; firm and sweet abalone; and the scallop wrapped in seaweed, which was so succulent the juice dripped out when we bit into it. We also loved the anago (sea eel) with spring onion, the sweet corn, and the taraba crab. We were served three types of fish and liked the firm-fleshed kisu the best. Both the tendon and tencha - with a corn and shrimp fritter and fried nori - were comforting dishes to end the savoury portion of the meal.
Dessert was appropriately light: a verrine of yogurt with red wine-poached pear, with a peeled grape, slice of kiwi, and juicy green melon.
So which would I pick? Both have delicious tempura with a light, delicate batter. Ippoh is more expensive (its dinner menus are HK$900, HK$1,200 and HK$1,500) and a bit more formal. It's also harder to get seats - you'll have to reserve long in advance, while with Tenshu, I booked the day before our dinner. If I had to choose, I'd go to Ippoh (for lunch, when it's cheaper) because it has more unusual offerings. But I'm also happy to eat at Tenshu again.
Tenshu Tempura & Sashimi, Lam's Building, 6-10 Kau U Fong, Sheung Wan, tel: 2147 1288. HK$780, HK$980 or $1,280 without drinks or the service charge