Yudofu (Tofu) in Kyoto

tofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.com

In Japan, tofu is not a meat or dairy replacement. It’s just a regular food that regular people eat – and hardly anyone there is vegetarian. The very best way to experience tofu is at a yudofu restaurant in Kyoto. You sit down (on mats) to a set meal which starts with a few small dishes made out of various types of tofu. Then comes the big star – the simmering pot of soft tofu. It’s luscious, creamy, and unlike any kind of tofu that has ever come out of a box. This particular meal was at Okutan, a 350 year old establishment, where they make their own tofu on site every morning.

tofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.com

Cute story – this woman, our Japanese grandmother (at least for that afternoon), noticed us taking photos at the start of the meal. When she brought out the big hot pot, she motioned to Jack and made a charades-style camera-clicking motion… preparing him to get the camera ready before she opened the steaming pot. It’s always awkward trying to photograph in restaurants, so of course we loved her participation… language barrier and all.

tofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.com tofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.com

The tofu is served simply – with soy sauce, grated daikon, scallions and shichimi. The meal is finished off with crispy veggie tempura, rice & Japanese pickles. I wish could eat like this every day!

For more Kyoto restaurant/travel recommendations, see this post.


Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. What a beautiful post. I loved experiencing this myself. We went to Kyoto for sakura two years ago and we tried the yudofu. So simple, yet so delicious. I now recommend that everyone going to Japan try it! I miss Japan – I just saw on the news yesterday that sakura arrived 5 days earlier than expected this year!

  2. As a vegetarian, this is the best thing ever. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to find anything to eat there. Phew! Even the restaurants in Atlanta sometimes don’t have vegetarian options. +1 to Grandma from the future 🙂

  3. Jasmin

    Hi ! We’re visiting Kyoto and while searching for a tofu restaurant to go to. I came across your blog, so we went to Okutan. Their food is absolutely amazing – I’ve never had such silky tofu – the entire meal was just perfect. My partner isn’t a huge fan of tofu so I had to drag him there but by the time we were done eating, he was ready for seconds. Thanks for the recommendation!!

    • jeanine

      Hi Jasmin – I’m so glad to hear! Ha, glad your partner liked it too – tofu in Japan is SO different than anything else! Glad you had a nice time in Kyoto…

  4. I was in Japan almost 2 years ago, and the foods were such an integral part of my experience there. I absolutely loved the ceramic pots of fresh simmering tofu for breakfast (there’s nothing like it!), but could probably live without fish in the morning! Fushimi-inari was one of my favorite experiences, and I wish had more time to walk more along the trail. Thanks for the little trip down memory lane!

  5. Bonnie from makingmisotasty.com

    Wow, this looks amazing! I am dying to go to Kyoto to try the tofu!

  6. Natsuko Kure from chopsticksforkandknife.blogspot.jp

    I love your blog! especially this post! I’m Japanese, and I’m very glad you like Tofu and Japan.

  7. Beautiful evocative pictures. I grew up in Asia, and tofu is definitely loved and respected rather than being merely seen as a substitute.

  8. When I came back from my semester abroad in Shanghai this was the one thing I really missed a lot: the tofu culture. Various kinds of tofu as a cheap protein source available everywhere. And I think it is totally strange to consider tofu a meat substitution – it’s totally its own food group in my opinion and works great combined with some meat. Tofu, minced meat and hot sauce make one of my favorite Chinese dishes: mapo dofu. And the delicate, pure Japanese tofu dishes I ate in some restaurants in Shanghai make my heart really long to go back.

  9. Amy from saltedsky.blogspot.com

    Yes. I totally agree with the fact that tofu is not a “meat” or a “vegetarian” food only. It actually makes me kind of mad when people treat tofu as a meat replacement. Maybe it’s just an Asian thing. Anyhow, these pictures look delicious and I love the Japanese grandmother story!

  10. Your photos are just gorgeous! And that sesame tofu looks so interesting/delicious. Thanks so much for posting — it really makes me want to visit Japan!

  11. Ashley from edibleperspective.com

    So incredible!! I have been loving these posts!

  12. Emma from coconutandberries.com

    This looks so simple and delicious. Beautiful pictures as usual, maybe more so with your little lady’s assistance!!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.