Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kyoto - Yubasen

Yuba tofu is one of Kyoto's specialities. It's like tau kee (bean curd skin) but they have it in both the fresh and dried versions. We were really lucky to stumble upon this small speciality restaurant serving nothing but yuba tofu early one morning, before our hike up to Kiomizudera. We had a scrumptious and very healthy, gout-inducing breakfast. We saw quite a few Japanese tourist here, and they all had different Kyoto guide books. No other non-Japanese tourists there but us - but they (thankfully) had an english menu :) Starter was chilled yuba tofu with 3 different kinds of sauce - there was plum, soy and sesame.
We were very intrigued by the creamy, smooth texture of the chilled yuba tofu - I really couldn't imagine bean curd skin tasting this way, since the dried tau kee comes to mind whenever I think of bean curd skin. It's really creamy, not friable, and tastes very bland (maybe with a slight hint of soy). Different forms of yuba tofu - this one's fried with soy sauce and it becomes slightly crispy and very brittle.
Battered and fried like agedashi tofu, just that it's bean curd skin inside. The drier but still fresh version tastes like tau kee which has been soaked for a while, but it's rolled up tightly to form rectangles.This is the fresh version, but it's drier than the creamy ones we had for the appetiser. This one is served with soy sauce and wasabi, cos it's rather bland by itself. I thought the freshly grated wasabi went really well with the cool tofu skin.
Simmered in soy sauce, the broth is rather thick and starchy (think sharks fin soup)Fresh yuba tofu (the creamy kind) served over rice and braised with soy sauce. This dish was delicious when eaten with the glossy Japanese rice. I don't like rice unless it's the Japanese rice, which has a nice pearly sheen and has more moisture. The yuba tofu was served with freshly grated ginger, which gave it a nice spicy taste. Dessert was also yuba tofu - this one is the fresh creamy kind again, but it's served with thick, brown sugar and kinako powder (roasted soy bean powder). Served chilled, it's a nice sweet ending to the yuba tofu meal we had.The set also comes with miso soup, this one has a reddish hue and tastes almost nutty. Interior of the restaurant - nice warm wooden interior - there was a queue outside when we were done. We were fortunate to stumble upon this restaurant at the unearthly hour of 1030am, when there was hardly anyone around.To-nyu matcha (green tea with soymilk)
We decided to try the green tea with soymilk cos it was a pretty warm day. We did worry about the toilets tho, since it's rather hard to find washrooms in Kiomizudera...
Of course, we chose the most expensive set cos we wanted to try everything. It's 1680 yen, which comes to about $25 sgd, which we thought was pretty reasonable, considering that some other posher places in Kyoto serve tofu lunches/dinners for up to about 5000 yen.
The ego-menu.
The very important map to Yubasen. Basically, it's near the foot of the slope leading up to Kiomizudera temple (if you take bus 100, you'll have to cross the road) and it's near this drug store. It's right at the foot of the hill up to Kiyomizudera, and it's even before the carpark where all the huge tour buses park. The main road is Gojo-zaka.

If anyone else has been to Yubasen, give a shout out in the comments box and share your thoughts on it :) I'll be interested to know of any other interesting yuba tofu places (will be blogging on another one, Naokichi, in Hakone).

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