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 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.
This is their signature dish, originated more than 300 years ago.
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.
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.
Kinuage – Fried Tofu
Perfectly fried, no dip.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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:
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.
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:
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…
It was such a beautiful afternoon, I haven’t seen the sun in days…
I can’t believe it’s been a week already. What fun and yum it has been thus. far. So thankful for the opportunity.