As some of us age (hopefully like fine wine or koshu/sake), there comes a time when during your set course you have to down additional carbs and fried goodness, thus it becomes potentially far too heavy duty to handle. It would then incur a risk and consequence of turning into the shape of the Michelin Pillsbury D’Oh boy (ie growing sideways, not up).
At Tempura Endo, the carb course I’m referring to is the Ten-Don, and for the higher end sets it’s the tempura onsen/runny egg over rice. It all sounds fantastic on paper and I’m sure in theory is great. But some of us can only take so much heavier/oilier items course after course, even though it’s all done at a very highly skilled level.
I found out that you can request Tencha 天茶 instead, seeing that this is a very common item and often times offered as a choice alongside Ten-don, at the finer tempura-ya in Kansai region of Japan (the more well known one, Ippoh, from Osaka in particular). Called ahead a couple weeks ago well after I made the reservation, and asked management, in which Chef Satoshi Masuda confirmed he can and WILL do it.
I dare say this is not for everyone, but if you value having something light and more refreshing, this is a godsend to have instead of the ten don.
Ten cha 天茶, is a small portion of rice with tempura on top. Here I believe they do mostly shrimp (I didn’t ask exactly). Some roasted small grain…genmai?, and liquid is poured in. There are variations ranging from pouring in dashi or tea, but the Kyoto Gion Endo main branch, they use Sencha. We were extremely lucky that Chef Satoshi Masuda has at least 26 years tempura experience (Kansai/Kyoto style tempura) and sent over from the Kyoto location to oversee and execute in Beverly Hills, knows how to make this exactly and replicated what is actually offered as a choice at the flagship location, exact same recipe.
Happy to report that Chef Ma-san actually made his first Ten cha in California/Beverly Hills that night. And it was very refreshing to have. If only a little freshly grated wasabi were placed on top, it would have been perfect.
He may be still mulling over adding this to the menu even though we highly recommended that he should, but if more of you ask, it may become reality (ie having a choice of either Ten cha or Ten don)! Fellas, if you are bringing your ladies there, they will love you for getting Ten Cha. Not sure if it will work on Gwyneth P…