TenTo is a Japanese style cafe hidden down a laneway in Surry Hills. The spacious, outdoor only café has a menu of Japanese style eats from the photogenic Snow Crab and Snapper Ochazuke to the delicious Snapper Ramen served with a Gyokai tonkotsu broth.
Laura and I are having a festive season lunch and the main criteria for lunch was delicious food and an outdoor venue. Although the TenTo menu is Japanese, one of the owners is Din Haikin who is one of the five Israeli brothers that own food businesses like Anita Gelato, Shenkin, Kurtosh and Max Brenner. The other co-owner is clay artist and chef Ryota Kumasaka whose pottery they use in the cafe.
The name TenTo has a couple of meanings. Firstly the main part of the cafe looks a little like a tent. Also the cafe also opens at 6:50am so ten to 7. Service is very friendly and attentive and as soon as I sit down they ask if I need a blanket or anything to keep me comfortable. Laura and I decide on what we want to eat quickly.
Black Sesame Latte $5.50 and Iced Sesame Latte $7
We decided to try the hot and iced version of the black sesame latte. The hot one comes in a cute little stoneware cup by TenTo pottery, all nubbly textured with a little spoon standing up on the side. The iced version is served in a tall glass and is less sweet and less strong in sesame flavour than the hot one which I prefer.
Chicken Karaage Sando $13.50
Whenever Laura and I see fried chicken we have to order it and there are a few types of sandwiches here but we opt for the chicken karaage sandwich with thinly sliced cabbage, tonkotsu sauce and Japanese mayo. The thick white bread is super soft and although looks almost too thick, smooshes (technical term) down to become thin. There is a bit of an issue with ratios with the chicken not quite reaching the edges of the sandwiches so after a couple of bites Laura and I abandon the bread and spear the chicken which is juicy and fresh.
Snow Crab and Snapper Ochazuke $32
We both really wanted the Chirashi sushi but this was sold out. But the next most popular dish and the one that we see going past from the kitchen a lot is the ochazuke. Ochazuke is a rice dish served with a broth. This has a bed of millet and rice with sashimi snapper, poached snow crab and a soy milk koji dashi. Seasoning it are kani miso and yuzu kosho. Ochazuke is quite a subtle dish traditionally. You do need to make sure that you get some yuzu kosho or it may taste a little bland.
Snapper Tonkotsu Ramen $24
My favourite item is the snapper tonkotsu ramen. It comes with a little dab of butter and two tiny slices of seared snapper on the side. The tonkotsu soup is the star of the dish. It's a Gyokai tonkotsu broth made with both pork and seafood bones and although Laura doesn't like pork she loves this soup that straddles richness and creaminess well without making you break out in the meat sweats (don't laugh, it has happened to me). The ramen is well cooked and keeps its texture without getting soggy.
Coconut Malabi $15
What's a meal without dessert? We liked the sound of the Coconut Malabi which is a coconut cream pudding, much like a panna cotta but thickened with cornflour isntead of gelatine. It comes with a rosewater kanten or agar jelly on the side and a berry red wine compote and fresh fruit. The kanten is interesting, it's not particularly strong in flavour or sweet but we both enjoy the creamy, sweet coconut malabi.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you still eating out? Have you ever tried Ochazuke?
This meal was independently paid for.
3/8 Hill St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Open Monday to Saturday (check holiday hours on their Instagram)