Typically made from a variety of root vegetables and seafood ingredients, deep-fried golden tempura was originally introduced to Nagasaki by Portuguese missionaries during the 16th century. Salty, crunchy, and satisfying, tempura has since become a staple food of Japanese cuisine. Made from a light batter of flour, eggs, and water, tempura evolved from being a food reserved for the elite to eventually becoming a tasty snack enjoyed by the masses, an inexpensive bite to eat between meals. During the Edo period it was common to stop off for some crispy tempura at local street stalls, and then later during the Meiji period, tempura restaurants began to emerge.
Now a simple and accessible meal, this deep-fried crowd favorite is popular over a tendon rice bowl, or when eaten with a serving of soba noodles. Available widely throughout Japan, tempura is particularly delicious when made with locally-harvested vegetables or freshly-caught seafood, not forgetting a piece of obligatory ebi (shrimp) tempura and some other classics like white fish, kabocha (pumpkin), or a fragrant piece of shiso leaf. Irresistibly crunchy and perfectly-fried, take on tempura and learn how to make it during a Japanese cooking class, or experience high-quality tempura at a luxurious kaiseki banquet. From street food tours to fine dining, discover deep-fried perfection and check out our mouth-watering tempura food experiences below.