Popular Japanese tempura chain Tempura Makino opens outlet in Singapore, offering tremendous value for freshly-fried tempura.
One of the latest concepts to open up in Singapore is Tempura Makino, the popular Japanese tempura chain’s first overseas foray brought in by EN Group. The Singapore outpost, located in Suntec City, attempts to recreate exactly the same flavours and dining experience that made it a hit in Japan.
The Japanese first adopted the concept of deep-frying fritters from the Portuguese in the 16th century. Today tempura – which describes a wide variety of seafood and vegetables that’s battered and then deep-fried – is easily one of the most recognisable dishes in the Japanese culinary repertoire.
But replicating the exact flavours is no mean feat. One basic criteria for good tempura is that it must be freshly fried and served almost immediately. A previous visit to a tempura institution in Kyoto – when travel to Japan was still possible – saw us scolded by an irate chef as we lingered over and took pictures of his freshly-fried wares. Not that anyone likes battered crust that’s been sitting around in the kitchen, getting soggier as the seconds tick by waiting to be delivered to the table.
This is where tempura specialty chain Tempura Makino stands out from most other Japanese restaurants here. Their tempura is made-to-order right in front of diners. You’d think such a venture would mean it will cost a pretty penny, but Tempura Makino prides itself on affordability. This even as it imports flour, dashi and dipping sauce, from Japan, and also serves free-flow grated yuzu daikon.
So while you can splurge, there’s Anago (river eel) and Scallop at $6.80++ per portion, and upwards to $10.80++ for Steak, there are a la carte tempura items like Japanese Eggplant, Butternut Pumpkin, and Maitake starting at a low price of $1.50++. And the ubiquitous Prawn? Just $2.80++ each. That’s really good value.
Tempura Makino also differentiates itself by offering items you don’t expect to see in a usual tempura joint. French Beans, for example (which, of course, was the first vegetable recorded in Japan to be fried into tempura). There’s the luxurious Uni Ohba, which wraps creamy sea urchin in a perilla leaf. Makino offers a subtle hat tip to Okinawa too, offering Goya (bittergourd) and the indigenous native seaweed Mozuku, two classic ingredients from the Japanese island. Both known for their health benefits.
Even their set meals are well priced. The Prawn & Vegetable Tempura set comes in at $16++ for three prawns and an assortment of vegetables, while the Anago & Seafood Tempura at $23++ bundles a variety of seafood and vegetables.
And if you just can’t decide? Tempura Makino will be launching tempura omakase menus priced below $100++ per person in the coming months. Let the chefs pick out the best seasonal and premium ingredients on your behalf.
Just don’t linger too long taking pictures.
[Image credits: Superadrianme.com]