It’s been a while since I last posted here, so let me kick things off by sharing a full review of a restaurant I’ve repeatedly returned to – Tendon Kohaku!
This Japanese joint with overseas branches in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines specializes in tendon (tempura donburi) or battered shrimp served on top of rice. The UCC Group helmed by Hubert Young is responsible for bringing the brand to the Philippines. It currently has three Philippine branches so far: Uptown Mall and Forbes Town Center both in Taguig, and Vertis North in Quezon City. The latter branch is incidentally the most accessible to me, and is the same branch I frequent when I have the chance.
Tendon Kohaku would often have a new item on its menu, which I would usually order when I visit. But most of the time, I stick with the best-selling Kohaku Tendon that I have featured in a number of posts. I have also tried different tendon bowls such as the all-protein Shrimp Tendon and the Vegetable Tendon for those swearing off meat. The combination of crispy tempura, steaming rice, and savory sauce – that comes in either Original or Spicy – is definitely unbeatable.
During a recent visit, I saw a number of new items in the joint’s menu. The Unagi Tendon caught my attention even though it was priced higher than most meals there. I understood why, since unagi (freshwater eel) is typically imported from Japan and is a summer delicacy there. Unagi also contained high amounts of protein, vitamin A, and calcium — which made it a nutritious, albeit expensive, treat.
I asked for an order of the Unagi Tendon with a side order of Egg Roll with Mentaiko. The Unagi Tendon came with a bowl of miso soup and picked daikon radish. Meanwhile, the egg roll was a simple dish that consisted of savory tamago (egg omelette) with spring onions and mentaiko (Alaskan pollock roe) mayonnaise on top. Tendon Kohaku offered unlimited hot or cold hojicha (roasted green tea) so I took the cold option.
Proteins made up the majority of the rice bowl. It contained two pieces each of shrimp tempura and green bean tempura. It also had a shiitake mushroom tempura and chicken breast tempura placed in front of the shrimp and beans. A long piece of unagi tempura, in reality an eel fillet sliced lengthwise, capped off everything. I initially throught that the unagi tempura was an entire eel in itself – with head, tail, and all!
I first tried out the Egg Roll with Mentaiko so that my stomach at least contained something. It tasted rather mild with the mentaiko contributing a rich, salty sharpness that brightened the egg. The green onion topping didn’t do much, but the daikon cut through the mentaiko‘s taste and added a refreshing zing.
I then proceeded with the tempura rice bowl after trying out the appetizer. The hefty unagi tempura was crispy on the outside yet moist on the inside. Tendon Kohaku‘s frying process retained the mild taste of the fish with nary a trace of the oil. It did not have the small fish bones that made unagi a chore to eat. The eel fillet alone was sufficient for the entire bowl of rice!
The shrimp tempura was likewise up to par, with the sauce contributing a slightly savory taste to offset the shrimp’s sweetness. The green beans and shiitake mushroom tempura were exceptional, though I found them lacking with only one to two pieces. The chicken breast tempura, while a good source of protein, appeared to be rather overcooked and tough.
The miso soup neutralized the oily taste of the tempura whilst the pickled daikon cleansed the palate. The cold hojicha I ordered washed everything down. Ordering the cold tea provided a refreshing break from my usual practice of ordering the hot variant.
All in all, the Unagi Tendon was the best meal I tried so far from Tendon Kohaku. This tendon bowl definitely satisfied (and satiated) me despite the high price.
Until the next review, bon appetit and stay safe!
Unit #JT-05, Japantown
4/F Vertis North Mall, North Avenue
Brgy. Bagong Pag-Asa, Quezon City 1105