Typically, tempura is a classical Portuguese dish brought to and popularized by Japan. It consists of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried. For this review, we are focusing on a restaurant that has branded that name in the community quite well since 2009. It all started with a small catering company at home. The reputation of catering led to a small flagship restaurant where we sat for this tasting. Since that time, it has spread to other parts of Houston. My daughter, Ava Kennedy, joined us in the tasting along with Munazza, the daughter of the owner and “Man of this World,” Asrar Saeed. The Pakistani community has been like family to me since the start of my international career. They are an independent culture and I’ve been a pretty independent woman who works with many diverse organizations.
The Mughals, the Persians and Turks have all contributed to the creation of what we call Pakistani food. Pakistani cuisine has evolved through hundreds of years of dedicated fusion. From the majestic peaks of our mountain ranges to the abundant waters of the Arabian Sea, their country has a rich geographical diversity and a wealth of natural resources. With four clear seasons and summer monsoons, there is no shortage of the natural ingredients for their recipes.
The first dishes brought to us from the chef were he soft & tender Chicken Malai boti, biryani, and freshly made Tandoori naan straight from the clay pits! These were accompanied by curries handmade dips made with goat milk and a popular spicy red sauce called Tempura sauce.
Next, we had the barbecue meats, chicken tikka and vegetable rice. My favorite Tempura dish and my photographer’s is the grilled chicken shish or seekh kebab.
Let’s talk about seafood ~ Tempura has it! Most of the restaurants offering the same types of food do not have fish as a choice. Samosas and shrimp tempura are always hits. Our finale of this visit, Gulab Jamun Kheer, is my daughter’s favorite! This dessert is (also known as rose berries, deep fried dough balls dipped in a rose water scented syrup) essentially rice pudding and tastes like a honey covered donut. It was served on beautiful platter ware fit for princesses. It pairs well with Chai.
Whether you’re craving fall off the bone lamb, Lahori fish, Karahi, or even chicken corn soup, you will enjoy this culture’s unique take. ‘For quality taste that costs only a few dollars, you can choose the buffet option or order a la carte off the menu. I’ve asked some of my Pakistani friends which are their favorites, and they said Malai boti and paratha. One friend said it was the Chicken Karahi and chicken crispy burger at Tempura. Speaking of friends, that brings me to this: Tempura not only caters for events like the one Sister Cities held with the mayor of Karachi as the special guest, they also have an event hall called Tempura Marquee Event Hall. This hall is already being utilized for weddings, birthdays, and religious events that can be outdoor events with set ups of air-conditioned tents and live food stations. Attend a Pakistani event or stop by any of their diverse locations to find your favorite!! Either the Northwest part of Houston where we visited at: 10640 Cypress Creek near the Consul of Pakistan or Tempura in Sugar Land at: 16305 Kensington Dr. The Sugar Land location has collaborated with Agha Juice Hillcroft Management & Tempura Management to offer the customers smoothies, juices, shakes, ice cream, kulfies, and faloodas at their jointly established Alpha Juice and Cafe. There is also a location on Antoine at 12228 Antoine Dr, Houston, TX 77066. Last, but not least, the newest one is now in Clear Lake!
Pakistani cuisine is like a painting. With a palette of the world’s greatest ingredients and a cultural passion for great eating, it’s painted on this great canvas of world cuisine in a unique cooking style steeped both in rich heritage and proud traditions. Try it for yourself!