Crispy & Elegant: Tenmasa Tempura & Sake Pairing

Awabi & Sake | Tenmasa Sake Pairing | Food For Thought

Tenmasa is known to be the only specialist fine dining tempura restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, and with their latest collaboration with Kamoshibito Kuheiji sake, we see the French-style elegant sake matching the refined tempura omakase telling a story of the turning of the seasons.

Masanori Iwaasa | Tenmasa Sake Pairing | Food For Thought

Tenmasa: Refined Tempura Fine Dining

Tenamasa is headed by Masanori Iwaasa, previously from Tempura Masa in Ginza, Tokyo, who has taken the helm at Tenmasa. The cuisine here is simple, the myriad of intepretations of ingredients, both Japanese and local, in the perfectly crisp form of the tempura. Amongst its tempura courses, Tenmasa is also known for their tendon bowls. For our previous tasting, see our Tenmasa Review.

Sake | Tenmasa Sake Pairing | Food For Thought

Tenmasa Sake Pairing

This collaborations saw a 6 course menu, beginning with Appetisers, 1st Tempura Course, Seasonal Plate, 2nd Tempura Course, Rice Course and Desserts, all matching with 6 different sakes by local suppliers TMI Trading including 2 from Kamashibito Kuheiji, 2 from Dewatsuru and 1 from MidoriKawa and a homemade Umeshu by chef Masanori himself. To find our more about Kuheiji, you can see our review of DC Service Par Excellence: Dc Restaurant X Kamoshibito Kuheiji Sake Pairing.


Chawanmushi with Okra; Kamasu Sashimi Ikura Sauce; Komochi Wakame; Baigai; Deep fry Mukago
The appetisers which started the meal did not consist of any tempura, but instead seasonal ingredients meat to tell the story and whet the appetite. The baigai was in season, sweet and springy to the but, while the interestingly textured komochi wakame was made from firm fish roe sandwiching a layer of wakame.

Kuheiji Junmai Daiginjo “Sauvage”

A tart and flinty sake with a balanced bitter aftertaste, perfect served in a wine glass because of its minerality.

1st  Tempura Course – Part 1

Ebi, Sweetcorn, Kisu
The first 3 items from the 1st Tempura course were prawn, sweetcorn and Japanese whiting, with the white sweetcorn being one of the sweetest you will come across, sweet, ripe and crunchy. The sweetness of the prawn and flakiness of the whiting were perfect with the kanochi.

Kuheiji Junmai Daiginjo “Ka No Chi”

The kanochi was vibrant and peppery on the nose, with a certain sweet florality, while the smoothness on the palate was elegant.

1st  Tempura Course – Part 2

Shiso leaf with Uni, Shiroebi, Ikura
The second item from the 1st Tempura course was shiso tempura, layered with briny umami uni, sweet white shrimp and salmon roe, a perfect burst of flavours and textures.

Seasonal Plate

Snow Crab Dashi Vinegar Jelly
The seasonal plate came in the crown of a snow crab, with layers upon layers of sweet snow crab legs, in a umami sour dashi vinegar jelly, balancing the sweetness of the crab. A perfect dish if you will.

Katsuyama Ken Junmai Ginjo

Both the second dish of the 1st Tempura Course and Seasonal Plate were paired with the same sake, which was clean on the nose, which leaned towards being a bit dryer on the palate, slightly acidic but rounded.

2nd Tempura Course – Part 1

Sweet Potato, Maitake Mushroom
The sweet potato had an intense sweetness to it, crisp and had a starchy mouthfeel, while the maitake was woody and succulent.

2nd Tempura Course – Part 2

Shirako, Awabi with Caviar
The shirako was fresh and did not have any pungency, while the awabi with caviar was a burst of umami bubbles on the springy texture of the abalone.

Dewatsuru Kimoto Junmai

This traditional sake is prepared with the Kimoto method, and has a mellow earthy flavours of dried mushrooms, which were served cold with part 1 of the 2nd Tempura Course, and warm with part 2, each matching well with the play of different temperatures releasing different levels of richness.

Rice Course

Anago Tendon – Sea eel with Organic Yolk and Japanese Rice

Simple and clean, the anago was light and made a perfect penultimate ending to the meal, with the high quality organic yolk adding a layer of richness to the rice bowl.

Midorikawa Junmai

Clean, smooth, and gracious: this is the essence of the classic Niigata “light and dry” style. Subtle nose of melon and ginger, creamy soft texture and prolonged but dry finish.


Umeshu Sherbet, Shine Muscat
A simple ending to the meal, the umeshu sherbet was served with a side of shine muscat grapes, perfect with the homemade umeshu made my chef Masanori himself.

Tempura Sake Pairing | Tenmasa Sake Pairing | Food For Thought

The Tenmasa Sake Pairing Experience

One would not instinctively put tempura with sake as a pairing as initial thoughts would seem that it wouldn’t go together, but the result was quite the opposite. The flavours of clean and crisp tempura is only highlighted by the minerality and the French style sakes, while the traditional nihonshu style sake work with the bolder flavoured ingredients such as dashi laden snowcrab and woody maitake, which resulted in a mix of eclectic styles of sake paired with ingredients that fit them very naturally.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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