Tendon vs Tempura: What is the Difference?

Like the Japanese breaded deep-fried pork cutlet “Tonkatsu (豚カツ)“, “Tempura (天ぷら)” can be used as the main ingredient in the Japanese rice bowl dish “Donburi (丼)“. 

You may know that the bowl of cooked rice topped with Tempura is called “Tendon (天丼)”, but can you tell how Tendon is different from Tempura, say, in sauce or in ingredients?

The Difference between Tendon and Tempura

For those who don’t know much about the difference between Tendon and Tempura, today let me explain how they are different from each other.

Tempura (天ぷら)

Tempura Deep-Fried Ingredients

Tempura, together with Sushi, is a traditional dish in Japanese cuisine that is quite well-recognized in many countries.


Tempura is made by deep-frying batter-coated ingredients in sesame oil or other vegetable oil one by one. The batter is made from wheat flour and hen’s eggs.


Tempura has a crispy covering on the outside, while the ingredient inside retains its natural moisture. Typical ingredients for Tempura include seafood such as prawn and fish, vegetables like eggplant, asparagus, and sweet potato, and mushrooms like Shiitake and Maitake.

Eating Manner

Although Tempura can be enjoyed in various ways, we most commonly eat it dipping in “Tentsuyu (天つゆ)” sauce. Therefore, Tempura and its sauce Tentsuyu are served separately, on a plate and in a small bowl respectively.


Tentsuyu is the dipping sauce for Tempura, which is made by once bringing a mixture of Dashi (soup stock), Mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), and soy sauce to a simmer. Tentsuyu often comes with grated Daikon radish, and prior to dipping a piece of Tempura in it, we usually add the white lumpy stuff to the sauce.

Tendon (天丼)

Tendon Tempura Donburi

Actually, Tendon, or Ten-Don, is the portmanteau word for Tempura Donburi, so Tendon is the Japanese rice bowl dish with pieces of Tempura.


In general, the cooking process of Tendon is that right after Tempura is cooked, the deep-fried ingredients are placed on top of a bowl of white rice and then dressed with a sweetened soy sauce.


The pieces of Tempura on the rice usually consist of several varieties. The main ingredients are prawn Tempura and other seafood Tempura such as squid and sand borer, which are often garnished with a few additional pieces of seasonal vegetable Tempura like Shishito green pepper, eggplant, pumpkin, or lotus root.

Eating Manner

Tendon where pieces of Tempura are placed on a bed of plain rice and seasoned with a sweetened soy sauce, and you eat them at the same time.


The sauce for Tendon is made by evaporating alcohol from a mixture of Dashi, soy sauce, Mirin, and sugar by heating. It has a strong taste compared to the Tentsuyu sauce for Tempura.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 天丼, 天ぷら )



Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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