After everything that has happened over the last three months, I’ve made it a point (and rather pointedly, so to speak) to pop out of the office at lunchtime. It has become more than a break for me; it is an hour’s respite from everything. It is time for being something other than a copywriter at her desk and glued to her laptop. It is my time, my hour; and I don’t have to talk to anyone. I can experience new things, taste new foods; rest up a little and clear my head.
One such solitary meal was over at Tenya recently and I enjoyed it most thoroughly without anyone breathing down my neck and telling me “Oh, you should stop eating fried food!” or “Oh, you’re getting fat!” or “Carbs are so bad for you!” or “Why eat alone? You have us; we’re your friends.” Please: my friends are virtually all outside the workplace – and, unfortunately, I haven’t seen most of them in ages. Anyway, eating alone at Tenya was a welcome respite from everything and with good reason.
Tenya’s All-star Tempura Udon Set is that reason. Here, you get a basket of mixed tempura – all fresh from the fryer, all crispy and crunchy and good – with a bowl of rice, tentsuyu (mirin-based dipping sauce into which you stir in grated daikon radish and ginger), and a bowl of thick, chewy udon noodles in a shoyu (soy sauce) broth topped with sliced scallions.
This, in my personal opinion, is pure and simple comfort food. You get quite an assortment in your basket: prawn tempura and crabstick; kakiage loaded with baby prawns, green bell peppers, and sweet onions; tender squid and buttery salmon; green beans; and – what came as a revelation – enoki and bunashimeji mushroom dipped in batter and made deliciously rich and earthy by frying. Pure yum.
The udon was deliciously simple: the noodles just al dente and held up beautifully in the sweet-salty broth; a touch of shichimi togarashi further helps to brighten the flavours and makes it more interesting. Definitely a meal I would order again…especially if things get too hairy for comfort at work again.