In a society that has always prized healthy eating and fresh ingredients, the idea of serving only deep-fried food in a Japanese restaurant may seem unorthodox. But this is not what tempura – a dish that was influenced by fritter-cooking by the Portuguese residing in Nagasaki – is all about.
At the newly opened Tenmasa in Platinum Park, tempura is considered steamed rather than deep-fried. Encased within the thin layer of brittle batter could be a selection of ingredients such as anago (saltwater eel), pumpkin and sweet potato.
It’s made known that tempura is best consumed at a tempura bar, overlooking the cooking area where chefs drop batter-coated ebi (prawn) into the oil. Snag a seat at the 10-seater bar to watch chefs fry them to a satisfying crunch at precisely 180 degree Celsius or relegate to the table area that can accommodate up to eight people.
While the freshwater prawns – kept in a live tank at Tenmasa – are the only ingredients that are locally sourced, the rest of the produce such as beef, seafood and vegetables are air-flown from Japan three times in a week. Even the rice bran oil used for frying is imported too.
The menu rotates every quarterly and curated according to which ingredient is in season in Japan. For the upcoming spring special, for example, guests can look forward to baby corn, asparagus, shiso leaf and bamboo shoot to name a few, which flourish from April to May.
Helmed by chef Masanori Iwaasa, who cut his teeth at Tempura Masa in Ginza, Tokyo, Tenmasa is operated by The Curate Group, which founded boutique Japanese dining concepts namely Sushi Ryu, Bar Shake and eight-seater sushiya Sushi Den. The tempura bar opened its doors in November last year to a steady hum-drum but soon gained overwhelming response and reservations through word-of-mouth.
The lunch and dinner menus are similar to an omakase experience – opt for the seven-course Premium Kaiseki set for a first-hand immersion into the craft. If you’re pressed for time, the signature Tenmasa’s Signature Tendon Bowl offers a huge serving of fresh tempura and Japanese rice drizzled in sweet sauce. A la carte options come in various innovative guises, such as comte cheese with wagyu beef, shirako with caviar as well as the A3 Wagyu beef sukiyaki style.
Tenmasa, Level 2, Tower 1, Platinum Park, Persiaran KLCC. Mon-Sat, noon-3pm (lunch); 6-11pm (dinner). Make reservations here.