TENDON GINZA ITSUKI

A less palatable dine-out meal tends to disappoint me but a delicious one sure brightens up my day.

When I was in Tanjong Pagar last week, I came across Tendon Ginza Itsuki, a Japanese tendon specialty restaurant. Tendon (天丼) consists of tempura served on a bowl of rice.  The word tendon is an abbreviation of two words – tempura and donburi.

What actually attracted me was the long queue by the side lane of the restaurant, even slightly before the normal lunch hour of 12 noon for people working in offices in that area.  Since I rarely come to this part of Singapore, I have not eaten a Japanese meal in Singapore for a while now and could afford some time to wait, I decided to check it out.  Of course, I was driven by curiosity too.  So I had all the justifications not to miss it.

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There were around 20 people in front me.  Fortunately it was not too hot the weather, and the restaurant was thoughtful enough to provide huge red umbrellas for shelters.  Customers in queue could also help themselves with free-flow of water available at the front of the queue.

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There was information about PSI readings in view of the haze condition and a gentle reminder for customers to take care during the haze season. The restaurant even offered free masks!  Sometimes, it is small gestures like these that enhance the dining experience of the customers.  Unfortunately, not many restaurants make such conscientious effort though.

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My wait turned out to be 45 minutes.  That’s really long considering that I don’t normally like the idea of queuing this long for food. 5 to 10 minutes are still acceptable to me if I was really craving for a particular food, or a particular restaurant.

It is a very small restaurant but comfortable and cozy enough, with about 14 to 15 counter seats, and another 2 to 3 small tables.  I think it probably can accommodate a capacity of about 25 people.

Two chefs responsible for the frying of the tempura and one in preparing the rice

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There are only two choices on the menu : (1) Special Tendon which comes with prawn, chicken and vegetable tempura or Yasai (野菜) Tendon which is served with only vegetable tempura.

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Soon after I sat down, I was served chawanmushi (steamed egg in a tea bowl) and miso soup.    The chawanmushi has a seaweed flavour and it was certainly a nice starter for the meal.

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Guess what is in this bowl?

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Pickled vegetables!  It’s free-flow!Tendon07

This sign on the wall says that the restaurant uses carefully selected Japan-produced rice

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I ordered the Special Tendon which came with 2 pieces of prawns (pretty big ones), 2 pieces of chicken, mushroom, long beans, pumpkin and baby corn and a little pleasant surprise as well!  The ingredients were really fresh and good, and the tempura were fried just right.  I never knew baby corn can be this delicious!

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The little surprise –  a fried egg hidden under the tempura!  Oh, I love fried egg with the egg yolk uncooked!

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I thoroughly enjoyed my meal!  It actually took me half an hour to savour every bite of it!  It was definitely worth the long wait. For the price of S$13.95 for the Special Tendon, and S$12.95 for the Yasai Tendon, I think it it pretty good value for money, especially for the quality of the food!

After the meal, I spoke briefly with the service staff who was also manning the cash register.  I found out that this restaurant has been opened for about 3 months and the two chefs frying at the counter are from Malaysia.  One of them has worked in Japan for 8 years.

If I really had to pick on this restaurant, then I think it will have to be the loud music.  I like the fact that it was playing Japanese music but something more soothing will be pleasant for the diners.

Walking out of the restaurant, I texted hubby to tell him how satisfied I was with the meal.  I will go with him the next time, and I will have the yasai tendon instead.

On my way walking to the MRT station, still feeling happy with the meal, I saw pale blue sky and some white clouds.  At last, after many weeks of hazy condition.  What a bonus for the day!

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More Japanese food awaits me in the Land of the Rising Sun.  Hopefully by the time I return to Singapore  in two weeks’ time, there will be no more haze.

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