[TOKYO] SASANOYUKI: 11 Course Tofu Tasting & Ueno Park

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - entrance

Dear Food Diary:
When ChubbyReader Kenneth suggested Sasanoyuki I immediately added it to my Tokyo Eat list. The idea of a tasting made entirely out of tofu variations was intriguing and totally unique. Nothing really similar back in NYC. Though, we did once have Kyotofu, but even then, it was a more of a modern and hip tofu dessert spot.

Sasanoyuki has been making tofu using traditional methods since 1691. It supplies tofu to the Imperial family! If it’s good enough for the royals, it’s definitely good enough for this Chubby.

I enjoyed a 11 course tofu tasting before a nice walk in the finally sunny (been raining these few days) Ueno park.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - inside

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - table for one

I arrived at 11:30am on the dot, without a reservation. Table for one didn’t seem to be a problem on a Thursday.

The old man at the door was really nice, asking me to wait, assuring me of an english menu, helped me take some photos and then proceeded to take a picture of me with his flip phone (weird, I know, a flip phone in Japan!?). LOL. Yes, the photo taking sorta creeped me out too, in an endearing way? I don’t know, it just happened. I was confused and hungry.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - tatami room
After taking off my shoes, I was lead to the main dining area. Tatami style, though if you like tables instead, they can accommodate down the hall.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - tatami with view of koi pond
As the first customer of the day, I had the best table in the house. Right next to their koi pond.
SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - koi pond
My lovely view.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant 2
Because I didn’t think tofu would be filling, I ordered the biggest set OTONASHIGOZEN for about $45.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - appetizers
First came the appetizer, small dish of the season and pure cold tofu.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - seasonal appetizer tofu cream
Ikemorinamasu – Appetizer
They called this tofu paste, but it was more like a tofu cream. Very smooth and creamy it acted like a dip with the crunchy pickles and vegetables.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - seasonal appetizer
Small dish of the season
That marinated tofu was firm, with pores all around. The braised burdock root (I really enjoy their slight crunch and flavor, almost ginseng like) and vegetable mochi.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - cold tofu
Sasanoyuki – Pure Cold Tofu
Very simple and basic. Not super smooth though very pure in flavor and fragrance. It’s a classic pairing with soy sauce, scallions and ginger.

 

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - ankake tofu
Annkake-Tofu
This is their signature dish, originated more than 300 years ago. SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - ankake tofu 2
The warm silky tofu breaks at the slightest touch yet it withheld the lift of chopsticks. Melted in my moth with the soy sauce that was thick like gravy, slightly sweet. The sauce is very light, allowing the tofu’s natural aromas to prevail. A dab of mustard gave it a nice kick.

I was wondering why they served it in pairs, different sauce perhaps, but they turned out to be identical. After finishing the first one, I understood why. One just wasn’t enough. Thank goodness for repeat. So comforting.

 

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - goma tofu
Goma-Tofu
This tofu is made with sesame and arrowroot. The starch of the arrowroot made the piece a bit sticky, no as much as mochi though. Tasted like a sesame paste, smooth and cold. Enhanced by the soy and wasabi. Rich and satisfying like a dessert. I think with a change in sauce, this could definitely be a great sweet dish.

 

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - kinuage - fried tofu
Kinuage – Fried Tofu
Perfectly fried, no dip.SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - kinuage - fried tofu 2
So crisp and delicate. It made a symphony like crunch sound as I broke into the warm and soft center. One of the best fried tofu pieces I’ve had. Even deep fried, it felt light and airy. The shishito pepper definitely added the aroma and that fried mochi piece on the side was a savory treat.

 

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - yuba and koya tofu
Yuba, Koya-Tofu
Yuba is the layer of skin that forms when you heat up soy milk, similarly, you can heat up milk and the same theory applies. Though unlike the milk version, which I despise (my mama use to force it down on me as a kid for nutritional reasons), the Asian version is one of my favorite ingredients. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this dish the most, though, unfortunately it didn’t deliver.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - yuba and koya tofu 2
My main complaint was the sweetness. And the texture was way too soft, probably because it soaked up all that cold, sweet and somewhat savory seasonal broth. The freeze-dried tofu had a spongy texture, it squirted the juice all over. I couldn’t finish the dish.

 

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - seasonal dish
Seasonal Dish
This dish was a mystery to me. It didn’t seem to follow the flow. A cold egg custard, though real smooth and silky, I don’t think it had any tofu, at least it didn’t taste that way. There was a real umami and a freshness from the citrus. The shrimp had a nice snap to it, bouncy texture.

As I was looking through the a la carte menu, I was hoping this one would be part of my tasting

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - unsui
Unsui (cloud water)
As soon as I opened the lid, the aroma of yuzu peel danced around my face. Like a bright and sunny facial.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - unsui 2
It’s like a steamed yuba dumpling in soup. The yuba skin wraps around a filling of scallops, shrimp, shiitake and seasonal vegetables. So light and delicate.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - unsui yuba 2
This is the yuba I was hoping for, it retained the texture, soft but with character. Drawing natural sweetness from the filling, the rest of the dish was very carefully seasoned. The soy milk broth was so rich and smooth. I drank it the two hands holding the bowl, so warm, like a hug. Really nice flavors and balance. My favorite dish of the meal. I will be back for this and order a la carte next time.

 

By this time I was getting quite full, surprisingly…

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - uzumi tofu
Uzumi-Tofu
The presentation was quite charming in an old school way.

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - uzumi tofu 2

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - uzumi tofu 3
Hot soup with rice. With seasoned tofu pieces and preserved vegetables. And a side of Japanese pickles to wash it down in between scoops, adding extra crunch and sweet/tart flavors. It’s all very subtle but filled with a sweet umami. The firm pieces of tofu almost act like minced meat.

No spoon, just bowl, chopstick and a gathering movement/push towards your mouth, soup and all. This dish took me back to childhood, breakfasts with the family in Shanghai.

 

For the gran finale:

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant - kiwi tofu ice cream
Tofu ice cream
It had a bright kiwi syrup on top. Icy and a bit creamy. But not as creamy as I imagined, more towards a sorbet. Light and really refreshing with that very pure soy milk flavor. Not too sweet, with that bit of tartness from the kiwi. Really good on a hot summer day.

 

SASANOYUKI - tofu restaurant
Tatami seemed like a great idea, but my legs were cramped by the end of the meal. Seriously, maybe my legs are just too heavy.

Fun fact: Before leaving, on my way to the restroom I was worried about my lack of shoes (a crazy Britney moment popped into my head. You know the one where she goes to a restroom at a gas station barefoot?). Anyways, I smiled once I opened the door, they’ve thought of everything.

Overall, this was a wonderfully unique meal. And healthy, I assume. Though I left quite stuffed. Not all the dishes hit the spot, but some did make me want to return. Prices are totally reasonable and like I said, there’s nothing like this, ambiance and food wise in the Big Apple.

I’m glad I got a table for one, though I’m slowly but surely getting use to eating lavish lunches alone.

P.S. Chubby’s Rating:chubby rating 4
www.sasanoyuki.com
2-15-10 Negishi, Taito-ku, Tokyo 
03 3873 1145

 

Because it was such a nice day and Sasanoyuki’s proximity to Ueno park, I was happy to walk off my meal…

walking to ueno park

Here’s Ueno park in my RGB:ueno park - REDueno park - GREENueno park - BLUE

 

It was such a beautiful afternoon, I haven’t seen the sun in days…

sights of ueno park lily pond
This was one of my favorite shots of the day. Right by the lily pond.

lily pond and the city - ueno park
Lily pond and the city. Though it wasn’t blooming like the travel brochures promised, it was still very beautiful.

lily pond - ueno park 3
I managed to find a handful of pretty pink in the midst of green.

lily pond - ueno park 2
I sat here resting as I reflected… taking it all in.

I can’t believe it’s been a week already. What fun and yum it has been thus. far. So thankful for the opportunity.