Is it possible to have too many tempura shrimp? No, of course not. Don’t be silly.
We’re slowly coming to the realization that P.K. Sanjun, one of RocketNews24’s Japanese-language reporters, doesn’t understand the concept of change. No, we don’t mean that he doesn’t realize that things don’t stay the same forever. We mean that he seems a little fuzzy on the idea that if you walk into a restaurant with 10,000 yen (US$90), you don’t have to spend all of it.
Really, P.K., you can order something that costs less than 10,000 yen. You don’t have to convert all of your cash money into pork cutlets or pickles right there and then. When your meal is done, just hand the 10,000-yen bill to the cashier, and he’ll give you back the difference, which you can then exchange for other goods or services in the future.
And yet, here’s P.K., standing outside our local branch of Tenya, a popular chain of tempura restaurants in Japan. Oh, and what’s that he’s got in his hand?
▼ “Check it out, guys! 10,000 yen!”
P.K. had a rumbling in his stomach, which on this day could only be quieted by a mixed tempura bowl, or tendon, as the dish is called in Japan. With tendon, you get a variety of fried morsels topping the rice. There’re usually some vegetables, like carrot or kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), and there might also be a strip of whitefish.
For most people, though, the star of the tendon is tempura shrimp. Maybe you eat it first, or maybe you save it for last, but in any case, it’s the highlight of the meal, especially since most restaurants only put a single shrimp on their standard tendon.
But P.K. had a dream, a dream of a piling on as many extra shrimp as he could for 10,000 yen. When you’ve acquired as much experience asking for crazy-big portions as we have, you learn a few bits of gluttony etiquette, and so P.K. called ahead to make sure Tenya could accommodate him. They said they could, but didn’t want to take the risk of spilling all those shrimp, so they’d serve them on a plate, and leave the stacking to P.K.
We decided to stop by right after the restaurant opened, when there’d be fewer customers to disturb with our shrimp-based architecture project (and who also might pressure us to give them a bite). Tenya’s standard tendon is priced at 500 yen, and each additional shrimp you order is an extra 210 yen, which meant that financial reserves of 10,000 yen got P.K….
…45 extra shrimp, in addition to the one that comes standard with the tendon.
As awe-inspiring as they looked on their trays, though, they wouldn’t become a tendon without being piled on the rice, so P.K. got to work stacking them atop the bowl.
▼ We applaud his willpower in resisting what must have been the immense temptation to start playing tempura shrimp Jenga with his food.
But while there may be no limit to P.K.’s madness, there is, surprisingly, a limit to his appetite. After finishing the standard tendon’s toppings and 15 extra shrimp, he bumped up against his crustacean capacity. Ever considerate of his coworkers, P.K. brought the remaining 30 tempura shrimp back to RocketNews24 headquarters for the rest of the team to enjoy.
As for the 50 yen in change from his 9,950-yen mega tendon, we’re not sure what he did with it, or even if he’s aware of its existence.
[ Read in Japanese ]