As New Zealand's first Japanese tempura bowl specialists, Ten-Hana's authentic Japanese cuisine is up there with some of the best in the city.
Their mouthwatering bowls are served with tempura, typically prawn and vegetables, served on rice and drizzled with a special sauce. If you prefer noodles over rice, they do that too!
A review from journalist and avid foodie, Lincoln Tan
One of the last places overseas I went to before the Covid-19 pandemic was Japan. Perhaps the most memorable dinner I had there was a tempura dinner in Nara, sitting at the counter and watching the chef prepare and cook the perfectly light and crispy battered vegetables and seafood meal. It was truly a culinary performing art.
I wouldn’t have imagined that in the middle of the pandemic, a fantastic little tempura speciality eatery would open right in the heart of Auckland city.
Ten Hana was opened by Tatz Kudo, his wife Sanae Kudo and business partner Katzuya Iizima in September 2021 at Atrium on Elliott, just next to the lobby of Crowne Plaza which was at the time an MIQ facility. Kudo said it was their passion to offer diners something unique that made them change their business from the previous Genzui ramen bar to specializing in tempura.
“Maybe once upon a time, sushi and ramen were exotic and unique but now they are a dime a dozen,” Kudo said.
“We wanted to do something innovative and delicious, and also show New Zealanders that authentic Japanese food is not just ramen and sushi.”
Unlike the fancy (and pricey) tempura restaurant I visited in Nara, Kudo said one of the aims of Ten-Hana is to keep their menu offerings “affordable to all”.
Tempura can be traced back to the 16th century in Japan when Tokyo-based Portuguese traders were first seen eating deep-fried green beans as a meat substitute during the fasting known as tempora. Today this simple dish applies thin layers of batter to almost anything from fish, prawns, kumara, pumpkin to shitake mushrooms.
Now the thing that differentiates good from the average tempura is the batter, which is much lighter than what we’re used to with fish and chips. Ten-Hana’s batter is light, airy and good. The menu of Ten-Hana’s tempura bowls comprising assorted tempura, typically prawn and vegetables, served on rice with special sauce starts from a very affordable $18.
But in summer, what I’d have to beat the heat is the Ten Zaru Tempura Soba (cold buckwheat noodle) $20 set. The noodles are put through an “ice bath” and served cold with a side of mixed tempura. The Japanese also swear by the health benefits of eating soba which are naturally gluten-free. The noodles are eaten by dipping in a sauce made of dashi, soy, mirin and a little sugar.
Kudo says he is proud of Ten Hana being the first and only tempura bowl specialist restaurant. The trio have no plans of expanding or opening branches anywhere else - the only place for you to have this is here in the heart of the city.
- Lincoln Tan