Shoraian, serving Kyoto’s famous tofu

imageYou may not have eaten much tofu before or even be tempted to go to a restaurant that specializes in the food unless you were vegetarian or vegan, I myself would not have if I hadn’t been living in Japan for the last 16 years. I do however after eating at Shoraian which serves set menus featuring Kyoto’s local tofu recommend this to anyone visiting Arashiyama.

The location

Part of what makes this restaurant so good is the location as it’s perched on the edge of a hillside overlooking the emerald green  waters of the Oi River.

The trees surrounding the restaurant would turn different shades of colour with its Autumn foliage.

The easiest way to get there is to follow the river until you can’t go any further and then climb up the stairs leading up the mountain.

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The Restaurant

The restaurant is located in a house which formerly served as Fumimaro Konoe’s holiday cottage. Prince Fumimaro Konoe was the 34th, 38th and 39th Prime Minister of Japan including in the lead-up to Japan entering World War II.

The restaurant only sits 14 people at a time so it is essential to book a reservation. The sparsely decorated restaurant, has guests  sitting on traditional tatami mats with low brown lacquered tables to squeeze your legs under. Balconies wrap around the length of the dining room giving you partially concealed  views by the overgrowth of the trees  of the river and surrounding mountains.

The owner  of Shoraian  Fuyoh  Kobayashi’s calligraphic works and paintings grace the walls of the restaurant and hangs in the alcove.

There are three options for dining at lunch 11:30, 13:30 and 15:30 and the dining experience lasts for nearly the two hours. We ate from 11:30 which may be early but gives you enough time for sightseeing in the surrounding area during the afternoon.

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What is Tofu?

Tofu, otherwise known as bean curd is what Shoraian specializes in. Many of the restaurants in the area serves these dishes as Kyoto is famous for this dish.

Tofu, first originated in China before coming to Japan with the spread of Buddhism.It gained popularity in the 8th century for vegetarians in search of protein.

Tofu in Kyoto seems to be a lot thicker and creamier with more body than what you would find in your local supermarket.

The food

There are three different set courses which Shoraian serves at lunch.  The Shoyo (3,800 JPY)  the Shorai (4,600 JPY) or the Shofu (5,800 JPY) We were celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary so we decided on the most expensive course plus we both wanted to eat Wagyu steak which only came with this course.

What we ate;

Shofu

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appertisers

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assorted specialties plate

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special item-creamy tofu with some warm sake

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Toyuba tempura -crispy tempura with only a slightly thin batter

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Tofu gratin with namafu- a creamy gratin with soft pieces of namafu

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Mini- steak of Wagyu beef-one of the softest tender pieces of meat which we have  eaten

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Yudofu- boiled in a hot pot blocks of tofu. Could eat as much as we wanted but was way too full to eat only what was served

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Agedashi tofu-lightly deep fried tofu served with dashi soup. Rice and pickles

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dessert-milky, creamy ice cream made from tofu

Of course, half way through we were full.

The meal was wonderful and set in a traditional house overlooking the Oi River. Couldn’t ask for a better setting to enjoy a meal.

Have you eaten tofu? Did you try a tofu course while in Kyoto? We would love to hear what you thought in the comments section below.

The details

Shoraian Restaurant, Kyoto
Address: Inside of government land, Sagakamenocho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Japanese address: 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨亀ノ尾町官有地内
Open: Mon -Thu 11:00 to 17:00, Fri – Sun & National holidays 11:00 to 20:00
Phone for reservations: 075−861−0123 (advance reservations are strongly recommended)
Website: http://www.shoraian.com

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