Kyoto | 松籟庵 Shoraian, Arashiyama
When in Tokyo, you have to try the tofu because it is one of Kyoto's specialties. People said 'water is vital for tofu'. Indeed, 80%-90% of tofu is water. The water used to make tofu must be pure of certain ingredients. Kyoto's natural wells are blessed with water that is perfectly suited to tofu and Kyoto tofu is probably the most famous in Japan.
As I was in Arashiyama for the Autumn leaves, i found the highest-rated tofu place in the area is 松籟庵 Shoraian (Syouraian), i asked my friend in Japan to make a reservation for me, otherwise, 99% you won't get a seat here.
Shoraian is about 5-minutes walk along the river from Togetsukyo Bridge (渡月橋). And there are sign boards all the way along to the restaurant.
Walk along the pathway once you see this.
And the main dining room is right there in the hidden place.
The view is really amazing here, you can enjoy your meal with such fantastic fall view of the mountain and river. (But sadly that's not my seat :( I forgot to book a window seat)
I ordred the Shoyo 松葉 ( 3800+ JPY ) which is the lightest because i have to leave stomach for dinner. Otherwise, you can choose from 松籟 ( 4600+ JPY) which comes with an additional Kyoto dish and Chef's creation; 松風 (5800+ JPY).
Appetizer: Plum wine, cold tofu with Okinawa sea salt [先付:食前梅酒、冷豆腐、沖繩雪塩]
Firstly a small cup of housemade plum wine to start with, it is sweet and bit sour, although serving cold, it totally warms me up. On the side is a scoop of cold tofu, with a little bit garnished ginger on the top. I was told to have it with the sea salt from Okinawa. The taste is really simple, but the tofu itself is really good.
Assorted Specilities Plate [八寸盛り]
The assorted appetizers looks seriously nourish and delicious. Mainly consist of tofu fish cakes, some shell fish and tofu. There are also some real rice puffs as you see.
I was told it was the 1st of the month, which is very important to Japanese, so a small plate of red bean rice comes with the appetizer as well. It was well cooked with sticky rice and red beans, each single rice was so chewy and sweet (natural).
Next course is the signature Kyoto tofu-Yotofu [湯豆腐], which is simply tofu cooked in spring water. After 2-minutes 'dancing' in the water, the tofu is really. It is so soft but won't fall off at all.
Help myself with a cube of tofu into the soy sauce. The soy sauce here is different from the normal soy sauce, which is lighter and less salty.So that you can enjoy the original taste of tofu. Topped with some spring onions and 7-spices powder to make the flavor stronger. Some people complain that the Yotofu tastes bland and boring, but to me it is really good. I can feel the smooth tofu melting in my mouth, and imagine how the people make this simple goodness.
Rice with fragrant peas and fried baby fish, vegetable pickes, and Agedashi tofu (fried tofu)
Agedashi tofu (fried tofu) [揚げ出し豆腐]
Agedashi Tofu is always one of my favorite Japanese dish, the tofu was fried to crispy but still soft and smooth inside. The sweet soy sauce made the taste really good.
Rice with fragrant peas and fried baby fish [御飯, ちりめん山椒]
The fried baby fish is one of the specilities in Kyoto, and people ususally serve it on top of the rice. The rice itself was really good, every single rice was like pearl and chewy. The fried fish made the rice dish so attractive to me!
Dessert: Tofu Ice cream with mochi [デザート：豆腐アイス,黒蜜・生八ツ橋添]
The tofu ice cream is really good, very natural taste. It was topped with a sheet of cinnamon flavored mochi and some caramel honey, perfect ending.
松籟庵 しょうらいあん Shoraian (Syouraian)
Date of visiting: Dec.1.2014 (Monday)