Those who want to sample tofu cooking in Kyoto, the home of Buddhist temple cuisine in Japan, might try Okutan. It was founded in the 18th century, within the grounds of Nanzen-ji temple, to provide refreshment for visiting pilgrims.
Okutan is best known for its simmering pots of yu-dofu, served with side dishes of vegetable tempura and grilled tofu with miso. Summer dishes include chilled tofu as well as a dish called spicy tofu, fried dumplings made with fresh soy-milk curds seasoned with hot mustard. The meal, embodying centuries of culinary tradition, is complemented by the peaceful setting; the temple overlooks gardens and a pond, the kind of scenery that draws visitors to Kyoto.
Okutan is located near the crossover of Sannen-zaka (三年坂) and Ninen-zaka (二年坂). If you visit Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) early in the morning, which you should as the famed temple gets crowded later in the day, Okutan would be an ideal place for lunch. Come early at 11:00 to avoid the wait.
Address: 3-340 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
10:30 A.M. to 6 P.M.
Tosuiro is a well-kept secret among Kyoto’s vegetarians and lovers of toful For great food, really tofu kaiseki, for all its interesting dishes. In summer, you might be able to sit on the outside deck overlooking the Kamo-gawa River.
11:30am-2pm (last order), 5pm-9:30pm (last order) Mon-Sat
12am-8:30pm (last order) Sunday
No fixed holiday
Not only is it on the western edge of Kyoto, you also can’t get to the restaurant by car. Or by any wheeled vehicle, in fact. Shouraian (also Syourian) is perched on the edge of a mountain overlooking the beautiful Oi River in Arashiyama. You must take a short hike along a dirt path before climbing several flights of stone steps to reach this little oasis tucked away in the trees.
It specializes in tofu, but is not vegetarian. The Shofu option offers the most interesting variety of tofu courses.