Great find behind Kiyomizu-dera Temple! A satisfying meal at a Fu restaurant
I went to Kiyomizu-dera with a friend who came to tour Japan. I didn't forget to tell her that there were a lot of slopes before reaching Kiyomizu-dera, and that we had to eat well. My friend and I were both on a diet, so we decided to go to a Fu (wheat gluten cake) and Yuba (dried bean curd) restaurant, unique to Kyoto.
In the olden days, Fu and tofu were very precious, and it is said that only members of the imperial family and monks could eat them. Perhaps they were something like China's Manchu Han Imperial Feast, only eaten by the emperor.
The restaurant I will show you is located between Kyoto Station and Kiyomizu-dera Temple, not very far from the temple. Their dishes are refined, and some people may feel the amount of food is not enough to make them full. Please take note of that.
An antique museum in the back of Kiyomizu-dera Temple!?
As soon as we walked under the restaurant curtain, this is what we saw. Like a museum, isn't it? There were many certificates and trophies inside the glass cases on either side. Furthermore, there were documents and records from different periods. The chair in the middle looks like a chair from the Qing dynasty.
I wondered what were in the glass cases. Let's take a look. On display were a hanging scroll used for tea ceremonies and tools that were used to make Fu 180 years ago. There was a medal of some kind, too. I had the impression that it was a very high-class Fu restaurant.
We went further inside, and there was a mix of old and modern atmosphere. The paintings on the wall seemed to be modern. The pieces of furniture were probable antique. You can feel as though you have traveled back in time to about a hundred years ago.
A restaurant where you can feel the traditions of Kyoto
When I took off my shoes, I saw a cooking stove that was used long ago. On the wall were the words “be careful with fire.” In old times, most of Kyoto's houses were made from wood, and there were a lot of fires, so they would paste notes like these.
The interior of the restaurant was a very modern space. The counter was an Ichimatsu-moyo (Japanese checkerboard pattern) in red and black, Japanesque, but a modern atmosphere. We were able to chat away and thoroughly enjoy gourmet dishes. The flowers that decorated the place made me feel relaxed. There were four other women eating a tasty lunch while having a nice chat.
The restaurant was built so that it could take in the light of the garden. The design of the garden was in good taste.
Experiencing Fu and Yuba dishes of Kyoto, a city that has a history of several hundreds of years
The lunch we had been looking forward to started out with Fu soup. The Fu itself and the soup have little flavor, but there was umami (savory taste). I heard that this restaurant has been making Fu and Yuba for 300 years. As I ate, I wondered how they could keep pursuing how to make good Fu and Yuba for such a long time.
This is deep-fried Yuba. Thinly made, and shaped like a cherry blossom petal it dissolved as soon as I put it in my mouth. Perhaps they made this because it's almost cherry blossom season. Almost feels like springtime came early.
Next, we had a dish with both Nama Fu (wheat gluten mixed with rice flour and steamed) and Nama Yuba in it. The soup is delicious, and it goes well with rice. There is grated daikon radish on top. Looks healthy. It is actually low in calories and high in protein. I thought the bowl may be Kiyomizu ware, but I couldn't make sure.
This dish also has Nama Fu in it. I first thought it was dessert, but I was surprised it was spicy when I ate it. Of course, it tasted good. Do you see the two yellow spots in the picture? The spiciness was mustard.
I thought this was a very pure tofu. I could taste the smoothness on my tongue. The soy sauce was sweet and salty.
The main dish in this assortment was the Fu dengaku (miso glazed dish). I thought the chef's inventive idea of mixing red and white miso together was wonderful. On top of the rice situated in the middle was red perilla. The Japanese pepper flavor goes well with the Take Fu garnish. The food was delicious, and the people of the restaurant were very nice. The Fu and Yuba lunch was a little over 3,000 yen. They take major credit cards.
I will post a picture of all the dishes we ate for lunch here. I'm always careful about what I eat, but now I know that the people of Kyoto were careful about their calorie intake since 300 years ago. Today's lunch especially made me realize how sensitive the people of Kyoto are.
It is said that long ago, a Japanese monk who traveled to China came back with the recipe of how to make tofu. For the monks who were not allowed to eat meat, Fu, Yuba, and tofu must have been a precious source of protein. I hope you will enjoy this high-class food that was once only for members of the imperial family and monks.
A museum where you can rediscover Japanese food culture
After having lunch, how about taking a look at what they have in the Obento-bako (lunch box) museum on the second floor of the restaurant? Lunch boxes from the olden days are on display. I was told that they made the museum to preserve Japanese food culture from olden times. Do you feel the deep sense of the storekeeper's love for food? Free admission.
Fu is pretty profound, don't you think? Although traditional, we were able to enjoy new ideas adopted into Fu dishes. After walking to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, we may become a bit hungry again. We might try various food when we get to the temple's entrance path.
Hanbey-Fu main store
●433, Shonin-cho, Gojosagaru, Toiyamachi-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi
●9:00-17:00 / Tea house 11:00-16:00
*Closed: end of year and New Year's holiday
*Reservation required for meals
*The above information was last updated February 14, 2018. For further information, please contact the restaurant directly.
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