Tempura: A Fresh Take on Japanese


Nestled between Naan cuisine and Criminal Tacos on the far right corner of LeMont mall lies Tempura sushi, a modern and innovative take on Japanese cuisine. Since it opened its doors in early 2022, Tempura has strived to produce the highest quality sushi in Medellín. As a sushi fanatic, I decided to test this committed team of workers and see if their path to success is as clear as they believe. 

I began my Tempura experience with a simple whatsapp reservation, 8pm on a Tuesday. Picked specifically for its low demand at this time, my family of five and I arrived expecting great attention and ideal seating. To our surprise, the entrance of the restaurant was empty, in the distance only the owners hunched back welcomed us in. With a subtle nudge from the head chef, Camilo, the owner sprung to life and showed us to our seats. We were assigned a center table, coincidentally the largest in the restaurant. Centered between 4 roof mounted space heaters the table fought against the Palmas cold, successfully I might add. Once seated the only other guests in the restaurant ordered the check, only an empty plate was left behind.    

    Looking through the menu it seemed short, but displayed enough variation to serve a whole meal. Its first category was entrees, I’ve always seen this as the first impressions board, whatever this list of items displayed will determine if I like the restaurant at a first glance. In this case I would describe this section as underwhelming. A short list of Asian stereotype plates greet your view: spring rolls, gyozas and edamame among others. 

Following entrees came the sushi; it’s different, but different is not always bad. Ingredients that stood out were, almonds, beet rice and lychee; unusual for this type of cuisine. Careful examination led me to conclude that these 10 rolls had more ingredient variation than any of its competitors. Keep in mind Tempuras competitors like Sushi market and Sushi Light have upwards of 30 rolls on their menu (3x as much). Intriguing. 

The third and fourth pages in the menu, maintained the underwhelming trend entrees had set for them. Two kinds of rice and three cuts of sashimi inhabited the barren pages, so much so, they did not form part of my family’s order. 

While talking on the phone, the restaurant owner approached us to take our order, here is a reproduction:

  • Spring rolls 
  • Edamame
  • Murasaki roll
  • Tuna Tataki roll
  • Tempura roll
  • Vegan roll

The first dish to arrive was the edamame, this traditional entree consisting of seasoned peas came in an ornate bowl, in an appropriate serving for 2-3 people. As I took the first bite of this meal, I was surprised with an Americanized spin to it. Instead of boiled, the edamame was roasted and seasoned with American southern spices. Slight hints of sweet and spicy tingled the tip of the tongue, while the salt and bitterness from the beans coated the mouth.

Shortly after, the restaurant owner arrived with a boat shaped dish, in it were 4 “spring rolls.” There are no words to describe the disappointment I felt as the dish was set on my table . Instead I will describe the food: Inside a gummy-like yellow crepe, a pound of lettuce sprinkled with carrots greeted the eye. When biting the roll, the vegetables were so dense and the shell so old, the teeth could not cut through it, I could find better rolls at PriceSmart.

Saved by the sushi, the owner arrived with a large black slate, on it were all 4 rolls neatly organized and perfectly presented. A sweet fragrance brushed the nostrils and pulled you into your first bite. The Murasaki was the first roll I tried. Wow. After eating Sushi market for the past year this roll was a delight, its innovative basil sauce on top paired beautifully with the fresh salmon. There was nothing wrong with this roll, the rice cooked perfectly, the garnish enough to make it appealing but not too much, and the flavors all fresh. 

After a brief water break between rolls, next came the tempura. To my surprise the roll was made from real tempura and not deep fried panko, like seen in many other restaurants. The roll was a great contrast to the Murasaki, being so dense and flavorful, the words I would use to describe this are complex and rich. Moving on to the Tuna tataki I would describe it as a standard tuna roll, for all fish lovers out there the tataki had the strongest fish flavor, and a delicious cream based sauce that softened the roll in your mouth. 

After delighting us with fish based sushi the vegan roll was delivered to our table, primarily ordered for my mothers allergies, the roll surprised us all. As a person who regularly scouts for allergy conscious restaurants Tempura is an exceptional example. The vegan based roll made from beet rice and lychee delivered a sweet feeling as well as a freshness that you would see on other great rolls like the Murasaki. 

Almost indistinguishable from the other rolls, the vegan option is by far the best sushi alternative for people out there. If I could recommend this restaurant for one thing it would be for vegans and vegetarians, only because of this roll. 

As we got up to pay we were given a friendly grin from all the staff that warmed us on that cold Tuesday night. Overall, the restaurant might have issued with organization and service but the quality and taste of the food they deliver completely hides their imperfections and makes it in my opinion, the best sushi restaurant in Medellin. Chef Camilo is a visionary, bringing ingredients from all around the world to make his sushi the best there is, there are no ingredients that he wouldn’t turn into an amazing dish.