Kyoto is famous for its tofu, it is a local specialty due to the pure water source from the surrounding mountains. Once we decided to visit Kyoto, we set our minds to have a Tofu Feast. Managed to secure a late dinner seating at Tousuiro serving kaiseki-style tofu menu and they specialise in oboro-tofu. They make their tofu in-house, using from 100% domestic soybeans. I also liked that the restaurant is housed in a machiya (traditional townhouse) next to the Kamogawa River, making the entire dining experience a pleasure.
As with other traditional Japanese restaurants, guests had to remove the shoes before stepping onto the wooden floor in the shophouse unit. We were ushered to the upper floor that required us to climb up a narrow and steep wooden staircase. For a moment, I imagined myself being a ninja. =)
The interior decoration is simple yet cosy, with tatami mat floors and exposed wooden beams. I was rather relieved to see a low chair setting instead of having to sit on the floor due to a sore ankle.
The service staff presented us with the menu that has 3 different set courses ranging from ¥4,000 (S$50) to ¥5,500 (S$70) per person before tax and service. We opted for the Higashiyama (H) with 10 courses and Miyabi (M) with 12 courses.
As mentioned earlier, they serve kaiseki-style menu at the restaurant, meaning the multi-course dinner would be made up of elaborately arranged and beautifully plated dishes. Started our meal with a meticulously prepared Appetizer (H) Hijiki seaweed and tofu skin mixed with Huki miso and soya cream, Layered green peas and soya milk with gelatin, Cherry blossom tofu, Mixed egg and tofu in the shape of a butterfly, Sakura shrimp and tofu, Petals of a lily bulb.
Appetizer (M) Spring cabbage mixed with tofu, Mixed egg and tofu cut into shape of a butterfly, Three coloured tofu in the shape of a diamond, Fried soya beans with sticky rice, Grilled dried firefly squid and Lily bulb arranged in the shape of petal. Followed by (both) Assorted Sashimi.
The highlight of the meal was the “All-you-can-eat” boiled oboro tofu which was served in a heated wooden barrel. We were told to wait for a few minutes for the tofu to be cooked before it was ready to be eaten. The staff came back when it was ready and opened the barrel to unveil the soft white slabs of tofu boiled with leafy greens in Konbu hot water. She then guided us on how to prepare the condiment mixture of soy sauce, mustard and chopped green onions that we could use to dip our tofu in.
The ultra-smooth tofu slid down our throat quickly and we finished the 1st tub in no time and had to ask for a top-up of the delicious tofu! This amazing tofu is a must-try for any tofu lover!!!! In fact, I think folks who didn’t used to like tofu because of the strong bean (soy bean) flavour might also fall in love with the oboro tofu as the flavour is much subtle.
While waiting for the top-up, the staff continued to pile us with numerous tofu dishes in our course menu. Thankfully these were mostly bite-sized items which were light and easy to eat including: (M) Mixed trout, petals of cherry blossom served in bonito soup stock, (H) Asari clams steamed soya milk and eggs, (M) Grilled tofu and bamboo shoot with two types of miso sauce, (M) Steamed spring vegetables, (H) Skewed tofu and grilled gluten cake with miso sauce, (M) Fried dish of gluten cake and tempura of young sweet fish.
Although it all featured tofu or soya byproduct, the dishes presented varying texture and flavours. Our favourite was the grilled skewered tofu and grilled gluten cake with miso sauce featured in the collage! It had an amazingly chewy texture with a slight charred aroma. I wished we could ask for additional pieces of these warm tofu pieces.
Final few dishes: (H) Tempura of wrapped sea urchin and fresh potato in tofu and tofu skin, (M) Vinegared taira clams with sesame and tofu skin, (both) Rice and onions cooked with bonito soup stock served with whitebait, red miso paste soup and seasonal pickles.
Lastly even the dessert – citrus fruit Sorbet featured soya milk in it.
If you have any doubts on how could tofu feast be a filling meal or if you are worried that it would be a vegetarian meal, you can be assured that you could leave the restaurant with a full and satisfied tummy. We certainly enjoyed the tofu dishes here and it was an eye-opener on the variety of ways tofu could be prepared.
Photos taken earlier:
Visited Ryoanji temple – site of Japan’s most famous rock garden and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The garden consists of a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded by low walls. It has with 15 rocks laid out in small groups on patches of moss. The interesting feature of the garden was that one cannot see all 15 rocks from any angle as at least one of the rocks is always hidden from the viewer.
There is a miniature display showing the layout of all the 15 rocks.
Ryoanji‘s temple grounds also included a park area with pond which was lined with blooming Sakura! What a sight!
Brochure of Ryoanji Temple.
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