Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 8 – Day 8 Tousuiro

After having the amazing Shoraian, we wanted to have more tofu kaiseki. This time, we wanted a pure and traditional tofu kaiseki. So we found Tousuiro in the Kiyamachi district, near the Kyoto City Hall, right by the Kamo river.

There are two seating options – either on the balcony overlooking the river for an extra ¥1000, or inside the store. Since we wanted to be a little more money-conscious, we opted to sit inside – it was also a little cooler inside.

We ordered the Machiya-Zen course each for lunch. It came with a variety of presentations of tofu, exactly what we wanted.

First was a simple cold tofu with a smidge of wasabi to go with.

Next was raw tofu (yuba) garnished with a piece of raw radish and served with some dashi sauce.

Tofu served in a thick, chilled broth was next. This dish showcased the versatility of flavour that the tofu can adapt to, given the saltiness and slight sweetness of the broth.

Changing the texture up, we were served several pieces of tempura, and as this is a vegetarian establishment, it was tofu, mushroom, squash, and beans.

After that was a chilled, smooth and cooked tofu served on ice with julienned carrots and shiitake mushrooms. The texture was smooth, and was refreshing in the hot weather we were having in Kyoto.

Last but not least, we were presented with a rice dish in hot broth and what looked like fried rice floating. It was accompanied with some pickled vegetables, again something I really grew to love in Kyoto. This dish reminded me of the chiu chow style congee, where the rice was cooked, but not so much that it melted into the broth. I actually prefer this type of congee because I love the juxtaposition of the thin broth with the slightly chewy rice.

Overall I thought the dishes were quite good, the price wasn’t too expensive, which made sense since most of the food was pre-made and chilled. I thought it provided a good taste of all the various types of tofu preparations, and showed the soy bean’s versatility. However I don’t think it’s a restaurant I would be dying to come back, as there are many other tofu kaiseki’s out there. But for an affordable option, I would definitely recommend it!

Food: 8.3/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: casual, family restaurant, scenic, traditional Japanese
Price: $25CAD

~kehwon

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 7 – Day 6 Shoraian

Although we didn’t book an upscale traditional kaiseki (perhaps next time) as was seen on some of the eating shows we’ve seen, we decided we’d try a kaiseki at the amazing bamboo forest at Arashiyama.

Tucked away in the forest, the entrance of Shoraian had a Spirited Away feel to me. It was something that might have been noticeable, and I felt that the seemingly endless path to the place of unknown was going to whisk me away to yet another magical place.

We were greeted by the kind owner of Shoraian, who instructed us to take off our shoes and of course showed us to our table. There was just one other table in that room – two Japanese women chattering away.

They had several set-menu, and we ordered the Shofu set, the third in their four-tiered set menus, at ~¥5000 (it is now ¥6300)

First came a simple tofu dish, likely to cleanse the palette and refresh our mouths. The texture of the tofu was slightly gritty, with a slight soy flavour.

The second course was this amazing smorgasbord of various fried delicacies, including shrimp sushi,

Next was a more Western-inspired dish – a mushroom cheese gratin. Not being a huge fan of cheese, I didn’t enjoy this dish too much, as I thought the flavour and smell of the cheese was too overwhelming that I couldn’t taste any of the mushroom. The large amount of heavy cream was also a little off-putting.

The star of the set dinner was the yudofu (湯豆腐). Generally a dish served in the winter time, it is simple unseasoned tofu boiled in a stone pot, and then eaten with soy sauce. I love flavourful food, and dishes with interesting new marriage of flavours you may not have thought of. However, with Japanese cuisine, I’m more of a minimalist. Thus, this dish really enabled me to taste the high quality of the tofu. It was dense, but soft at the same time, packed with soy flavour, providing that slightly grittiness when you let it melt on your tongue, but was so soft and smooth. The texture and surprisingly full flavour is chilling.

Next was some tempura with small shrimp, providing more umami, fatty mouth-feel and colour than the last dish.

Wagyu beef steak was next, cooked to medium rare. I didn’t think this was particularly outstanding, but then again, shoraian was not known for their beef.

The last main dish was rice with pickled vegetables – a staple in most Japanese households. I actually really love pickled vegetables but try not to eat it too often because of some of the negative health benefits it holds when eaten too often. However, the sourness and slight sweetness of the pickles went so well with the fullness of the lightly seasoned rice.

For dessert, we had the most amazing soy milk ice cream and tofu pudding. Again, the soy flavour in the ice cream was amazing, still retaining that slight grittiness, which is something I really enjoy.

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And after our wonderful meal, we went for a stroll back to the bus stop alongside the river. The lights and the calmness of the water flowing was incredible. The whole afternoon and night was as if I had been transported to a different world. The bamboo forest as the crowd had dissipated was magical, as if out of a Disney movie. As the coolness of the night settled in, and there were no more tourists around, it was like we had booked out the area, giving us some proper romantic downtime.

Food: 8.9/10
Service: 4.5/5
Atmosphere: traditional, japanese, tranquil
Cost: ~$50CAD

~ kehwon