Donburi – literally ‘rice bowl dish’ – is a staple in Japan, consisting of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients that are either simmered or fried, then served over a bed of rice. There are many different types of donburi, but the most well known are gyudon (beef), oyakodon (chicken and egg), katsudon (fried pork/chicken/beef cutlet), and of course, tendon (tempura). There’s a Japanese chain in Malaysia that specialises in the latter, called Tendon Kohaku (kohaku meaning amber) – and while I’ve seen the shop several times while at J’s Gate Dining in Lot 10 Kuala Lumpur, I only got to try their food recently at their second outlet at Tropicana Gardens Mall.
The eatery is small but cosy, with lots of wood furniture. You can view the chefs in action through a glass window.
The menu is limited – it’s a specialty restaurant after all – but what few items they serve, they do extremely well. Their signature tendon comes with tempura prawn, squid, crab stick, chicken breast, french beans, baby corn, shiitake mushroom and pumpkin. Alternatively, you can go for the kakiage tendon (mixed vegetables and shrimp fritters), or the single item dons.
I wanted noodles, so I went for udon instead of rice. As the restaurant makes each dish fresh to order, expect some waiting time.
My tempura shrimps (set of 5 – RM38) came to the table freshly fried and piping hot, alongside a belly warming bowl of udon noodles, some pickles and grated radish for palate cleansing, as well as a dipping sauce.
The shrimps were sizable and deep fried to golden perfection. The mark of good tempura is in its batter, and Tendon Kohaku aced the test – it was crispy, light and did not feel greasy at all. The dipping sauce was light too; I would have liked it to be saltier, but it brought out the natural sweetness of the shrimp really well.
The udon was excellent. These are ‘hoso udon’, or thin udon. They had a chewy texture, and the warm broth it was served in was very comforting. Portions were substantial. You can have these either warm or cold.
Overall, really satisfied with my Tendon Kohaku meal! Service was attentive and friendly. Food is on the pricier end, but I think it’s worth the splurge every now and then. Will be making a return visit to try their signature rice bowls!
TENDON KOHAKU (TROPICANA GARDENS MALL)
Lot CC-25, Concourse Floor, Tropicana Gardens Mall, No, 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Opening hours: 11AM – 8PM (daily)