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[Kyoto] Okutan 奧丹

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Okutan 奧丹

Add: 86-30 Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-771-8709
Hours: 11am-4pm (Closed on Thu)
Price: Yudofu set meal ¥3,240

When in Kyoto, one absolutely must have a tofu meal.

I first visited Okutan’s Kiyomizu branch almost 7 years ago in winter 2009. I still distinctly remember the utter satisfaction of having a steaming hot pot of tofu after a whole morning of walking around in the wintry Kyoto air. This time back in Kyoto, I decided to pay Okutan another visit, though this time I went for its original location near Nanzenji.


第一次造訪 “湯豆腐奧丹”,是2009年冬天。當時在京都冬日冰冷的空氣中找到了奧丹清水店,入內吃了頓熱呼呼的湯豆腐全餐,當時的惬意和滿足感至今都還印象深刻。六年多後回到京都決定再訪,不過這次,去的是更古老的南禅本店。


Okutan’s Nanzenji location was established in 1635, and claims to be the oldest yudofu restaurant in Japan. Upon entering, we were first greeted with a lush little Japanese garden, after which we were to take off our shoes to enter the dining area. The space is equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows so that guests can enjoy the view during the meal – a lovely design. If memory serves correctly, however, I think the Kiyomizudera location has an even better view.



I was delighted to find that the menu has not change a bit since I last visited almost 7 years ago, except that since it’s currently summer season, Okutan is also offering a chilled tofu option. The restaurant serves set menus (¥3,240 each) only, which includes yudofu/chilled tofu, vegetable tempera, sesame tofu, grated mountain yam, miso baked tofu, rice, and pickles.



Yudofu started near the end of Edo Period right near Nanzenji, originally intended for the monks only. Authentic, handcrafted tofu relies on high-quality soy beans, good water in which to soak and boil them, and of course the expertise of the tofu maker. What we get in supermarkets today is lacking in the pure taste of soy beans and the flavor of their protein, an unfortunate result of mass production.



But first, a pot of chilled tea to cool us down from the summer heat of Kyoto.



Then commenced the meal. First came 胡麻豆腐 black sesame tofu served with a dab of fresh wasabi and light soy sauce. This actually isn’t tofu, but a look-alike made from pureed sesame seeds and water, then thickened with potato or kuzu starch. The sesame flavor is lovely, and the texture is pleasantly sticky, almost like that of a yokan.

先上來的是胡麻豆腐。雖然被稱爲 “豆腐”,不過它的制作材料與黃豆無關,是用芝麻糊做出來的。奧丹的胡麻豆腐口感滑嫩微粘,富涵芝麻香氣,加上一點點新鮮的芥末泥,非常美味。


木の芽田楽 tofu grilled with miso glaze. The sweet and savory miso glaze is flavored with sansho, the distinct aroma from this Japanese pepper is very appetizing. The texture of this tofu is quite firm, a nice contrast from the sesame tofu.

”木の芽田楽“ 田樂燒,意指味增烤豆腐。奧丹的味增裏加有山椒,香氣十足,味道頗甜,搭配口感紮實的豆腐,剛剛好。


精進揚げ vegetable tempura.

”精進揚げ“ 蔬菜天婦羅。


とろろ汁 grated mountain yam. I’ve always been a huge fan of mountain yam, and would gladly down the whole bowl just like that..but it is suggested to save half of it to be mixed in with the rice served later during the meal. Fine.

”とろろ汁“ 山藥泥,天然迷人的清甜味一直是我的最愛。建議先喝一半,將剩下的加入一會兒上桌的白飯中,拌勻一起吃。


The main course of the meal, of course, is more tofu. We ordered both the 湯どうふ yudofu, which is served hot in a broth, and 冷奴 hiyayakko, which is served chilled in iced water. The broth in which the tofu was cooked was unflavored other than the single piece of kelp at the bottom of the pot, so the natural taste of the tofu is preserved. It is recommended to have the first few pieces of tofu just by themselves to really taste its pure flavor, after which you can add soy sauce and chopped scallions for additional flavoring.




The hiyayakko is served in a glass bowl, bathing in iced water and adorned with a green maple leaf. While the yudofu above is silky soft, the hiyayakko tofu is firm and hearty. It might not show in this photo, but the portion is actually quite large.



After tasting the tofu in its purity, you can add a bit of soy sauce, scallion, and grated ginger. There is also a sansho shichimi powder if you like extra flavor, but it’s best not to add too much to avoid overpowering the delicate flavor of the tofu.



I ended the meal by pouring the grated yam over a bowl of perfectly cooked rice, and polished that off with some accompanying pickles. And at that moment, I thought my life was perfect (no exaggeration intended).


Each dish at Okutan showcases the artisans’ incessant effort in making the best tofu, and a light meal like this is especially appreciated by all of us who are eating a little too heavily on a daily basis. If you think an all-tofu meal might not be substantial enough, you can perhaps try “Junsei”, another restaurant specializing in tofu dishes but also incorporates sashimi and the likes in the set. For me, however, Okutan is just what I was looking for.

在奧丹的每一道料理中都能吃的到店家對於豆腐制作的堅持,尤其是在大多數人都習慣重口味食物的現在,一頓清淡的豆腐是非常特別的經驗。京都另外還有幾家湯豆腐名店,其中 “順正” 聽說不錯,套餐內容除了豆腐之外也有一些生魚片類的料理,覺得只吃豆腐很無趣的人可以嘗試。奧丹對我個人來說,正好。



總本家湯豆腐奧丹 南禪寺店


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Written by sugarednspiced

August 29th, 2016 at 2:30 am