I have a real love-hate relationship with tempura (甜不辣), in the sense that I love to eat it, but it hates me in the form of a very minor seafood allergen that makes me itch like mad (anytime you see a post about something that came from the sea, please realize, I probably regretted that decision very much that night). Anyway, enough about me and my allergies... there are more important matters at hand... like what happens when you make giant patties of fish paste and fry them. Answer... you get something called 天婦羅 (tian fu luo), which are pretty much the same as 甜不辣 (tian bu la), but are fried... so way more awesome. I think?
Bought from the very same 賽門甜不辣, for 50 NT (~$1.50) you get the dish seen above. It's basically 2 larger pieces of tempura that are deep fried until a golden crust develops, cut into slices, and served with the same orange-brown miso based sauce. They do have a fantastic crust, which is nice and different from the soup based tempura, and the inside is chock full of burdock root, so the textural nuances continue throughout, but taste-wise, they're more or less identical to 甜不辣 (and it's still the sauce that makes everything right in the end). I like the fact that they're fried, but they're not nearly as incredible as I thought they'd be. Sadness right?
Normal tempura! Of course I got both. The fat kid on my shoulder insisted. Except this time wasn't nearly as good as the last time I came. Maybe it's because I've experienced the same dish at a multitude of different places since, or maybe the novelty of glorified fish sticks is wearing off, but it just wasn't as phenomenal as I remembered it to be. Don't get me wrong, it's still good. Just not something I'd return to for a while.