Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tengu - Clam Jerky

Tengu - Clam JerkyTengu is a brand of jerky produced by Tengu Company, Inc., of Santa Fe Springs, CA. The company got its start in 1949, focusing on making frozen foods to satisfy a small but growing demographic of Japanese Americans. It wasn't until 1978 the company decided to start making beef jerky.

In 1988, Tengu was acquired by Nichirei Corporation, a Japan-based company. It's frozen food business was migrated over to another subsidiary company, while Tengu remained solely as a beef jerky manufacturer, with the bulk of products being exported to Japan. In the early 2000s, as the "mad cow" disease scared all of Japan into boycotting US Beef, Tengu's business suffered. Then on December 31, 2007, Nichirei Corporation, dissolved Tengu, and that was that.

If Tengu will be known for anything, it will be this package of Clam Jerky which they introduced in 2003. At the time, it made headlines across the country and was blogged all over the Internet. The fact is that clam jerky had been done long before Tengu tried it, decades before in fact. But it was only something you'd find overseas in asian countries. Tengu was simply the first company that tried to cross it over to American consumers.

You can still find Tengu's products sitting on US store shelves in just a handful of places along the Pacific Coast. But not for long.


Clam, clam juice, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, garlic powder, white pepper, black pepper extract.


I get a strong "fishy" taste right off the bat, followed by the clam flavor, and then followed by a salty flavor. In fact, as soon as I opened the bag, the fishy smell escapes quickly and is easily noticed.

I'd say that clam taste is the predominant flavor of this jerky, and then a dose of salt. That fishy taste isn't too bad, once the clam flavors kick in. The saltiness is rather strong, and after several pieces it starts wearing me out.

As for the other seasonings, it's hard to notice them. I can maybe pick up some pepper taste, but that's really about it.

It still has a fresh taste overall, or at least it doesn't taste like its spoiled. I think this stuff might actually be better dropped into a bowl of hot clam chowder, instead of putting in those oyster crackers.

Meat Consistency

This appears to be real pieces of clam, basically from the "foot".

Despite the package claiming to be "new soft style", this stuff is hard. It's actually crunchy similar to peanut brittle, except it softens up in my mouth and gets a little chewy.

Overall, it's somewhat easy to eat mainly because it's brittle enough to break into small pieces, and because you can pop a whole piece into your mouth. But still being hard, it doesn't quite lend itself to being snackable.

Tengu - Clam Jerky

Tengu - Clam Jerky

Product Value

I paid $4.09 for this 1.6 ounce package at a 99 Ranch Market in Irvine, CA. That works out to a price of $2.56 per ounce, making this an expensive buy.

For general jerky snacking purposes, it's a fair buy. It's got plenty of flavor, and you can get a strong clam taste, but it's not exactly fun to eat with its hard brittle pieces, and strong saltiness.

As a clam jerky, I'd suppose it's a good value because you definitely get lots of natural clam flavor.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

I have to credit the folks at Tengu for packing in a lot of clam flavor into this jerky, but that's really all your getting here, aside from a strong salt flavor. I'm not sure Americans want to eat dried clam for the sake eating clam, however. At least I don't. I'd be more interested in this if they could add some other taste interest, like hot sauce, or wasabi.

Still, for those folks who want lots of clam flavor, maybe this is your thing (or at least until supplies disappear from store shelves). For myself, this comes across as being rather tiring, and I'm losing interest fast.

You'll definitely need to get some strong breath freshener afterwards.

For my beer recommendation, try something with roasted malt, like a brown ale.

Rating: Fair

Where to buy:
  • Asian food markets in the USA


  1. This was the only brand of jerky I could find on my vacation in Japan and it was only sold at import shops. Didn't know they weren't around anymore.

  2. Hi Steve, if you can find a bag of Tengu brand BEEF jerky, I'd be very interested to hear what you have to say about it. Tengu has always been my favorite brand of jerky, and ever since they went out of business, I've been looking far and wide for a worthy replacement, but none have come even CLOSE. The flavor, texture, snackability of their jerky was by far the gold standard, at least in my book. I've been scouring ebay for a bag, but no luck yet. If I find a bag, I'll send you a couple of precious pieces to review.

  3. Jason, if you find a bag of Tengu beef jerky, it's probably past its freshness date.

  4. Even when Tengu beef jerky is way past it's freshness date it's still the VERY BEST beef jerky I have EVER HAD IN MY 49 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If I was a man I may consider giving up one of my ---- for the recipe!
    YES IT'S THAT GOOD ! And I would be one of 1000's who would LOVE to see it back on the market.

  5. My favorite thing about Tengu beef jerky was that IT WASN'T FULL OF FREAKING SUGAR! Seriously, the lowest sugar I've ever found from anyone else (mainstream, at least) was 4g/serving; Tengu was ONE. (Don't get me started on Oberto.) The Japanese grocery down the street from my college used to stock it, and I hung on to an empty bag for ages, hoping I could use info on it to get hold of more. Maybe someone at a "legacy brands" company can get hold of the recipe? Until then, I'll be making my own....

  6. I miss Tengu Pepper Beef Jerky. It was one of the best peppered jerky brands out there. Mitsuwa used to carry their product line. I was floored when I discovered it was all gone....forever!

  7. its available @ don Quixote store in japan...hope it help

  8. I have searched several asian markets hoping to find Tengu beef jerkey on the shelves, but it wasn' until recently that I knew about their going out of business. So sad.

    Maybe we should petition the government to have the ban lifted on American beef. What about the Kobe or Wagyu cows, probably wouldn't dry well.

    Damn, I'm pissed. I miss the Tengu brand.

  9. OMG! That looks so good!

    What are some brands that offers good clam jerky in 2010?

  10. For anyone interested in getting the Tengu Clam Jerky.

    i have found it! while it isn't sold under the Tengu Brand Name, trust me it's the same. it's sold by the Crackseed Center in Hawaii.

  11. It's still sold in Japan now in June 2010 at Caldy and Seijyoishii

  12. They're still in business (2012). They just moved production because the mad cow scare made it impossible to import U.S. beef into Japan for several years. I'll list their Japanese website below.

  13. The very best jerky known to man.

    I freaked out when I heard it was not being sold anymore in America.

    Even the Tengu logo is awesome, flip it and it becomes another face.

    The texture, perfect flavor, rough hard dryness like jerky should be, is indescribable.

  14. omg omg, we are in luck.

    As of 10/23/2012, America will restart importing beef from Japan. They will be sold at high-end restaurants.

    America hasn’t imported Japanese beef for 2 years and 6 months.

    Tengu Beef jerky is the best beef jerky EVER.