Within walking distance from the Kinkaku-ji temple you can treat yourself with delicious soy-based desserts at KyoTofu Fujino Cafe. There is also a restaurant serving traditional tofu meals and soy milk treats, but I only had time to visit the cafe during this occasion.
The place serves different types of desserts, all soy milk based and a yummy and creamy ice cream. Which sounded like heaven after walking the whole morning in a heat of 38C degrees. Geez, it was scorching ☀️ in Kyoto that day.
For a quick stop and to refresh ourselves before the next attraction, we decided to have:
Hubby: Soy milk ice cream, with mochi, azuki beans paste, fried gluten, and soy milk cinnamon stick.
Mine: Soy milk cheesecake with black sesame seed crust.
As every Japanese dessert, they were just sweet enough. In case you have a strong sweet tooth, you may find it needed more sugar, but for my taste it was amazing! I got a little bit of the ice cream, it was very creamy and you could definitely taste the soy milk.
About my choice, the cheesecake, it was extremely delicate and light. I could feel some lemon or citrus flavour, what gave a special kick to it. Although the ice cream had a clear soy milk taste, the cheesecake had nothing like that. Definitely, a must go if you are around the area. 🙂
They say their soy milk and all soy based products sold in the store are homemade. I really liked the desserts and would go back in case I return to Kyoto one day. Ah! For all vegans out there, I don’t know about the desserts (they are vegetarian for sure), but for the traditional tofu meals, they can adapt everything to be vegan, you just need to book in advance.
About the English: English menu available and staff can communicate just enough in English.
Every time I travel I make sure to include one thing in particular in my must-do list: have the traditional food experience of the place I’m visiting. I like to explore new flavours and eating experiences. It’s the time I put my everyday diet aside in order to try new things, which means, obviously they must be REALLY GOOD and REAL FOOD, of course.
I don’t know about you, but I get very disappointed when I eat something that I normally don’t eat as part of my regular diet, like grains for example, and the dish is a disaster, either in terms of flavour or experience. Hopefully that wasn’t the case here. 🙂
Anyways, I’m telling you that because I thought A LOT before deciding to have dinner at Ume no Hana. Once I started doing my travel research, it was clear I should try Japanese ramen (although I don’t do well with gluten) and a tofu restaurant.
Ume no Hana is a very well-recommended Tofu restaurant that brings to you all the most traditional Japanese dining experience possible. They serve a set menu (minimum of two people) that includes a great variety of Japanese dishes, where tofu is usually the main ingredient.
Once you get there, you are taken to a private room where you can enjoy your dining experience without been disturbed by other customers.
There are 2 set menus available, a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian one. Hubby and I decided to go with meat, so our decision was for the Kiwami set menu.
Yame matcha go-tofu: tofu with yame matcha miso paste.
Hawasabi to shirauo no ohitashi: boiled wasabi leaves and ice fish seasoned with soy sauce and fish soup stock.
Katuo no tataki: Bonito sashimi. (hubby was very pleased with this one)
Hikiage Yuba: Yuba cooked at your table, served with ginger and soy sauce.
Yaki-minazuki-tofu: cooked red beans tofu with soy sauce and wasabi.
Namafu Dengaku: deep-fried wheat gluten coated with miso paste. Yep, I had deep fried gluten, everything just sounds plain wrong here. LOL.
Aigamo to Nasu no Hakata-age to Hamo-shinjyo no Daizu-age: deep fried duck loin and eggplant + deep fried pike eel ball with flaked soybeans.
Ayu no shio-yaki: grilled sweetfish.
Kuroge Wagyu no Yogan-yaki: Japanese beef steak grilled on a hot plate.
Kisetsu no Hanmono: seasonal rice.
Ko-no-monoi: pickled vegetables.
Yuba Suimono: yuba soup.
Dessert 1: red bean jelly with green tea
Dessert 2: vanilla ice cream with brown sugar
Our dining experience was unforgettable. The waitress served us one dish at a time and always trying her best to explain what was it about, despite the limited English.
For me the most remarkable moment was the Hikiage Yuba cooked at our table. Yuba is known as tofu skin, but it actually is the skin that forms after boiling soy milk. As you can see on the third image above, you keep the milk cooking at low heat and a very thin layer will form. This is the Yuba! You pick it with your chopsticks (a bit of skill handling chopsticks helps heaps :)) then place it in a cup with soy sauce and ginger. I don’t know how to put in words, but the flavour and texture are simply amazeballs!
Other two things that really impressed me were the Chawan-mushi Tomatoan (steamed egg custard) and the Kani Shumai (crab shumai). Hubby’s favourites were the Katuo no tataki (Bonito sashimi), Aigamo to Nasu no Hakata-age to Hamo-shinjyo no Daizu-age (deep fried duck loin and eggplant + deep fried pike eel ball with flaked soybeans) and the vanilla ice cream.
In case you are a good-eater like us, I might need to say that although it seems a like a long menu, the portions are rather small and you might not feel completely full at the end of the experience. However, all dishes were truly delicious and every bite was worth. It’s that kind of thing you need to appreciate the food quality and not look only for quantity. 😛
About the English: There is an English menu and staff can communicate just a little in English.
Bill: $11,440 Yen (A$ 145) – dinner for two and no drinks.
Exact location:https://goo.gl/maps/H72xX5orAE32 (This restaurant is inside a building. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which floor it was, but it is very easy to spot the right location once you get to the address.)