Tendon vs Tempura : What is the difference?

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

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

The Difference between Tendon and Tempura

For those who don’t know much about the difference between Tendon and Tempura, today let me explain it.

Tempura (天ぷら)

Tempura is a representative of the traditional Japanese dish, together with Sushi.

Cooking Process

As for the cooking process, firstly, ingredients are coated in the batter made from wheat flour and hen’s eggs one by one, then deep-fried in sesame oil or other vegetable oil.


Tempura has a crispy coating on the outside, while the inner ingredient keeps its natural moisture. The typical ingredient for Tempura includes 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 eat it most commonly dipping in “Tentsuyu (天つゆ)” sauce. Therefore, Tempura and its sauce Tentsuyu are served separately in a plate and in a small bowl respectively.


Tentsuyu is the sauce for Tempura, which is made by once boiling a mixture of Dashi soup stock, Mirin sweet cooking rice wine, and soy sauce. Tentsuyu often comes with grated Daikon radish, and prior to dipping Tempura in it, you add the white lumpy thing to the sauce.

Tendon (天丼)

Actually, Tendon, or Ten-Don is the abbreviation for Tempura Donburi, so Tendon is the Japanese rice bowl dish with Tempura.

Cooking Process 

The general cooking process of Tendon is that just after Tempura is cooked, the deep-fried ingredients are placed on top of steamed plain rice in a bowl, then dressed with a sweetened soy sauce.


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

Eating Manner

Unlike eating Tempura, you have the deep-fried food and rice dressed with a sweetened soy sauce in a bowl at the same time.


The sauce for Tendon is made evaporating alcohol from a mixture of Dashi soup stock, soy sauce, Mirin sweet cooking rice wine and sugar by boiling. It is thicker than the Tentsuyu sauce for Tempura.

(Reference pages of this article : Wikipedia 天丼, 天ぷら )



Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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