Shanghai: Tenya 天家

13 Nov

I admit, I was never really a maguro (blue fin tuna) fan, probably due to the insipid and flavourless maguro sushi at conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Singapore. Even a trip to Tsukiji Market’s Sushi Daiwa last year did nothing to change that – though a hurried lunch experience after queuing for 2 hours probably clouded my judgement. But while researching for my Shanghai trip, I read that there was a popular Japanese-owned tuna-specialist restaurant  called Tenya 天家 with very reasonable prices as they are also a wholesale importer; and I decided to drop by the Xintiandi branch since it was just a short walk from my hotel.

You should know how the story goes – I’m now a convert and I can’t go back.

Interestingly, the decor of the restaurant is not Japanese at all. It actually looks like a greenhouse with rustic looking furniture. I did a double take when I entered. :P

I actually ended up coming here twice on my last trip. The first time I came I ordered the 200RMB Sushi Zenmai set.

Cold tofu with bonito flakes, spring onions ginger – I thought this could benefit with a more sauce.

Maguro sushi platter

Akami (lean tuna) – I was impressed by how the akami tasted in Tenya. It was so much more flavourful that whatever I’ve eaten in Singapore. And the texture was good, not flaky or rubbery like what stale/bad quality akami can be.

Chutoro (second fattiest part of the tuna belly) – Fattier than akami, it was a prelude to what’s to come. For people who are averse to eating what tastes like a mouthful of omega 3 fatty acids i.e. otoro, this is probably your guy :)

Aburi-toro (torched tuna belly) – Torching fish always makes it taste TEN TIMES BETTER because of the smoky tint and the contrast in textures :)

Negi-toro (chopped tuna belly with spring onions) – I’ve actually never tried this sushi before, and was pleasantly surprised with how well spring onions and tuna belly go especially with a healthy dash of soya sauce. Refreshing!

Otoro (fattiest part of the tuna belly) – Definitely the star of the meal as expected, it was every bit melt-in-your-mouth and unctuous.

Shimeji mushroom miso soup – Very strong mushroom taste

Coffee ice cream sprinkled with cocoa powder – Pretty good, didn’t taste like it was from a mass brand.

Anyway while chatting with the waitress, she told me that there were other set meals available on a menu book that she did not show me (!?!?). So I came back another day with the hubs in tow and tried the 280RMB Toro & Crab set (I can’t remember the exact name, but there is only one at that price).

Sashimi platter (otoro, chutoro, toro-shio) – The toro-shio was interesting, it was actually marinated with salt and lemon juice. I’m not sure if it was just me, but somehow I thought the otoro in the platter was much less fatty than the one on the sushi my hubs had that day and the one that I had previously above.

Steamed taraba (red king) crab – The crab was very fleshy and the meat was sweet and juicy.

Toro shabu-shabu with zuwai (snow) crab and vegetables – I was looking forward to this as I’ve only had meat shabu-shabu before. I only swished the toro for a few seconds in the light broth so the inside would still be raw. The soup also had a very long snow crab leg (hidden) and bits of really soft snow fish. You could also choose either udon or rice to go with the soup when you’re done with the toro. Would have loved it more if the soup was slightly more flavourful, but I thought this was a brilliant idea anyway.

Ponzu dip

Negi-toro don – This was a very small bowl and since I shared all the above with the hubs (who also ate his own set), I was still quite hungry. Things I would do for the husband…

This set also comes with the same coffee ice cream as above.

Unagi sushi – The hubs loves unagi so we ordered this a la carte. It had a slightly smoky and caramel-ish taste, very good! A little pricey at 58Y though.

Comparing both my meals, I preferred the Sushi Zenmai set because even though the crabs in the Toro & Crab set were quite sweet, it’s all about the tuna in Tenya for me. Tenya is a value for money place for your toro fix, and my only serious criticism would be that the sushi rice wasn’t sticky enough. They have a pretty extensive menu of other usual Japanese dishes too for non-maguro fans. Would definitely come back to load up on the otoro when I’m back in Shanghai again :)

Price: $$-$$$
Location: 68 Taicang Lu in Xintiandi. They have a few branches

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