Tofu

I now officially designate tofu as my favourite food. “Enjoyed” is a pathetic word to describe my experience of tofu in Japan, but I can’t come up with anything better. Maybe “delighted in”? “Relished”? At any rate, all of the tofu was yummy.

It’s thus very depressing to be in Canada where tofu is scarce. In Montreal, it’s very difficult to find silken tofu; even Halifax had a better selection. We have to make special trips to a particular grocery store to get a decent brand. The Korean stores don’t seem to stock Japanese tofu, and Korean and Chinese tofu is a bit different.

For anyone out there who isn’t a tofu fan…I pity you. But I won’t evangelize; it just leaves more for me.

There are many kinds of tofu, but from what I could elicit from Yusuke, “regular” or “standard” tofu in Japan is 絹漉し豆腐 (kinugoshi tōfu). This is essentially silken tofu, but it’s creamier than what you often get from a package in North America. Pictured below are two kinds of tofu that we bought at the fabulous Sogo department store in Yokohama, a spot that we visited repeatedly in our short time there. One is lightly flavoured with yuzu skin, which is similar to lime. The other is actually edamame tofu, made with, obviously, edamame beans rather than regular soy beans. We ate the latter topped with a tiny bit of salt to magnify the flavour.

Tofu with yuzu

Tofu with yuzu

Tofu with edamame

Tofu with edamame

We also had yudofu several times, which I’ve written about before. It’s boiled tofu, topped, usually, with ginger, bonito flakes, green onions, and soy sauce. Again, the best tofu for yudofu was found at one of the Sogo tofu stands. It was “old fashioned style” (mukashi-nagara no) which has a much richer, deeper taste than we find in the packaged tofu here.

Yudofu

Yudofu

The absolute pinnacle of our tofu-eating experience was realized at a tiny tofu-making shop in Hakone, a mountain resort town. We had heard about the place, so when were there, we had to stop in. We ordered three different kinds, and the tofu-maker was kind enough to put it in bowls for us. We ate it right outside the shop on a bench. The white one without soy sauce is tofu annindōfu (杏仁豆腐), a sweet dessert tofu with a hint of almond. I had this a few other times during our trip, always wonderful, but not as special as in Hakone. We also tried plain and black sesame tofu, eaten with just a tiny bit of soy sauce. If you put too much, you completely miss the flavour. I should also point out the beautiful tray on which the tofu was served: it’s an example of the traditional wood mosaic craft of the Hakone region.

Hakone tofu

Hakone tofu

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3 Comments

  1. […] newer readers, I wrote about tofu in general in a previous post (amongst many others on this blog). One of the most memorable experiences of my life has been […]

  2. Jacqueline said

    Hi Chez,

    Do you still remember the name of the tofu shop in Hakone? I will be travelling in Japan soon and would love to try the tofu there.

  3. Megan said

    If you go to Kyoto, you MUST go to Junsei: http://www.to-fu.co.jp/en/food.html. I Hakone, we loved Hagino: http://www.hagino-tofu.com/. Here is a map: http://goo.gl/maps/00RCt

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