APART from sushi and ramen, tempura has got to be one of the greatest gastronomic treats that Japan has gifted the world with. Tempura bars are a dime a dozen in Japan, from the affordable and traditional to the luxurious ones. While Cebu has no shortage of Japanese restaurants, it wasn’t until last year that a proper tempura bar was added to its food directory with the opening of Siosai Tempura by Yasu Suzuki.
“Siosai means the sound of the sea waves. The Philippines is known for its many beaches and seafood which can be used for tempura. So we used this concept to create the name Siosai,” explained Jo-Ann Morfe, Siosai’s general manager.
“Here in the Philippines, most Filipinos are already familiar with tempura. There is even a street food version of it. Japanese restaurants have their own versions, too. We wanted to bring how it is in Japan to Cebu. Here, we noticed there are many izakaya-style Japanese restaurants but not many ‘senmonten.’
This means a specialty shop for a specific food. For example, ramen shops for ramen, sushi bars for sushi and sashimi, tempura bars for tempura,” she said.
At Siosai, it’s an intimate experience. It seats just 25 people, half of whom can pick the spots by the counter to watch the chef in action. The ingredients are at their freshest awaiting their turn to lather in batter and dunk in hot oil. Within minutes, your order is ready to be served and devoured. Made with the strictest attention to detail, there is a satisfying crunch with each bite that’s both audible and edible. Each table has Himalayan pink salt and curry salt so diners can give the freshly fried tempura a sprinkling. They can also opt for the tentsuyu or tempura dip which has dashi, mirin and soy sauce. Grated daikon is served on the side. A nice complement to the main dish is the miso soup that it comes with.
Siosai’s bestsellers are the shrimp tempura and the curry udon tempura set. A la carte items from vegetables to seafood are also available and come in one to two pieces per order. Seasonal items are handwritten by the chef on the restaurant’s menu board.
Siosai Tempura is located at Bonifacio District, F. Cabahug St., Cebu City. It is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4 to 11 p.m. for dinner from Sunday to Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.