Tenmusu – Nagoya’s Other Shrimp Soul Food

ByBert Wishart
Mar 26, 2024

Tenmusu – Nagoya’s Other Shrimp Soul Food

When outsiders think about Nagoya’s meibutsu [local specialties], a few things will spring to mind. Miso katsu will be one, and tebasaki will be another, but ebi furai will quite possibly be highest on the list. These immense deep-fried shrimp are as Nagoyan as Nana-chan, and you can get them everywhere. But did you know that there is another, less well known, shrimp dish that is just as beloved by the locals, though is infinitely more practical than the ebi furai behemoths?

Tenmusu is essentially an onigiri [rice ball] wrapped in nori [seaweed], that inside houses a small ebiten [tempura prawn]. Though these adorable snacks – they look like a little doll wrapped in a kimono – originally come from Tsu in Mie Prefecture, today they are very much considered a Nagoya thing. The name is a portmanteau of tenpura and omusubi [a word for a triangular rice bball], and they are incredibly delicious thanks to the fact that the prawn’s batter is made using tentsuyu, the dipping sauce that that you get with tempura, giving it a slightly sweet taste.

Where to find tenmusu in Nagoya

Tenmusu Senju

With a name like ‘The Birthplace of Tenmusu’, you have to think that they know what they are doing when it comes to this delicious dish. The store, originally in Tsu, has been around since the 1950s, but name’s claim comes from the fact that was said to be created by houswife Yone Mizutani, who wanted to give her husband something delicious and convenient to eat on the go. What makes it really stand out is the kyarabuki [butterbur simmered in a soy and mirin broth] garnish. If you want the original tenmusu recipe, this is the place!

Where: 4 Chome-10-82 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya (map)
Tel: 052 262 0466


Another restaurant with a decent longevity, Jiraiya opened in 1987, and has since grown to encompass more than 20 stores nationwide. Solely for takeout in bento box form, Jiraiya wraps its tenmusu in bamboo leaves to wick away any extra moisture, and it is known for its large shrimps (though not quite as big as the aforementioned ebi furai). They also have a variety of non-traditional flavors, such as black rice, and picked mustard greens, and there are also seasonal varieties, such as curry. If you can’t get to one of their stores, they deliver.

Where: 1-739 Tokugawa, Higashi-ku, Nagoya (map)
Website: jiraiya.net

Tenmusu Oniten

Opening in 2022, Tenmusu Oniten is the hipster choice. With ten different options, this is a store that is breaking the mould when it comes to what tenmusu is all about. The shrimp version is the standard, though it is positioned so that it pokes out, like the golden ‘shachi’ that adorn the top of Nagoya castle.

The chicken tenmusu is a heartier bite, while the shirasu and ooba (whitebait and perilla) tenmusu has a great combination of saltiness and fragrancy. However, if you have a sour tooth (dunno if that’s a thing?) then the umeboshi tenmusu might be right up your alley!

Where: 2 Chome-18-21 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya (map)
Website: instagram.com

Image: via https://www.instagram.com/p/CtnMcSIvbSm/
Image by via flickr.com [CC BY 2.0 DEED]

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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