The grated daikon radish is not a palate cleanser
Contrary to what you may think, the grated daikon radish that’s always served alongside tempura isn’t the palate cleanser. Although it could be, it’s considered more as a condiment. The true palate cleansers for tempura are vegetable tempuras because of their sweetness.
It’s always better to eat Ebi Tempura with salt
You don’t always have to dip tempura in its designated tentsuya sauce. Some restaurants will provide you with dipping salt (arajio), of which you could sprinkle a bit on the prawn tempura and eat as is. Doing this enhances the flavor of the tempura which is usually cooked without any seasoning.
The dish actually originated from the Portuguese
Just like ramen, tempura is not a Japanese original! According to Shizuo Tsuji’s “Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art,” tempura was introduced to Nagasaki locals in the 16th century by Portuguese missionaries who ate deep fried fish in a festival called “Temporas” (which was believed to be the origin of the word tempura).
The best seat is the one directly in front of the deep fryer
When you’re at a tempura restaurant in Japan, always take the seat directly in front of the deep fryer. In Japanese, this seat is called nabemae. Customers would make reservations in advance for that seat because it lets you appreciate the chef’s skills, and lets you savor the sight, sound and flavors of the tempura.
Do you know any more random trivia about tempura? Share them with us in the comments section below!