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Franchised by Tenya Singapore Pte. Ltd. on 15 January 2020, the Tenya brand is the most successful Tendon chain restaurants in Japan. The Tenya’s mission has been to provide customers with high-quality Tendon and Tempura, which were once regarded as expensive cuisines, with affordable price and we have established a brand of trust in Japan and overseas.
“TEMPURA” (noun) – A Japanese dish of fish, shellfish or vegetable fried in batter.
Origin – Japanese, probably from Portuguese tempero ‘seasoning’ (from Oxford English Dictionary)
The Origin of Tempura in Japan can be traced back to the mid 16th century, more specifically to the year 1543; when the Portuguese first step foot on Japanese soil. Not long after, commence and trade began between them. Japan’s port was closed except to limited trading activities with a few Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese traders. It was during this time that the concept of batter frying was brought over by the Portuguese missionaries, along with Catholicism.
The word “Tempura” derived from the Latin word “Tempora” which refers to “The Ember Days or “quattour anni tempora” and “In the time of Lent” or “ad tempora cuaresme” when Catholics refrain from eating meat. The original Portuguese-style Tempura started as fried vegetable minced and made into balls. These slowly evolved into the frying of green beans with batter called ‘peixinhos da horta’. The original version of this dish can still be found in Portugal today.
The dish slowly gain popularity among the Japanese and begin to spread within the areas surrounding the commercial port city of Nagasaki. The Japanese may have mistaken the dish name and called it ‘tempora’, as it was consumed during time of Lent when meat was abstained. Before long, Tempura was assimilated into the Japanese food culture.
The Japanese inherited the dish from the Portuguese and made it even better. Early days Tempura started to include seafood and shellfish (which is not classified under meat under the dietary requirement for Lent, again connecting its historical lineage to “quattour anni tempora”). Green beans were retained as one of the core ingredients to identify with its origin.
Even today, green beans tempura can still be found in authentic Tempura and Tendon restaurants. A testament to their long heritage.