by Deborah Im

Diners will see tofu in a new light after a visit to Ume no Hana. A sophisticated, tasteful chain restaurant that serves creative tofu kaiseki meals, Ume no Hana is a great place to take out-of-town visitors for a unique Japanese dining experience that won’t break the bank.

The Ume no Hana Zen course is a veritable steal at ¢D4,600 for a ten course meal consisting of delicious, innovative tofu and tofu-derived dishes. The first course is a sampling of marinated green vegetables, cold yuba (paper thin tofu skin created by boiling soy milk until a thin layer forms) and mineoka tofu, a delightful, creamy tofu-like dish made from milk, fresh cream and arrowroot starch.

Ume no Hana’s chawan mushi, savory steamed egg custard with a treasure trove of shrimp, gingko nut, mushroom and mochi balls inside, is perfectly executed. The otsukuri is a charmingly presented sashimi course served with fresh grated wasabi. A tofu shumai dumpling made with crab is wonderfully savory, enhanced by the accompanying ponzu dipping sauce.

The Zen course also includes yu dofu, boiled tofu which is flavored to taste by the diner with soy sauce, sesame seeds and grated ginger. A slightly more expensive version of the kaiseki meal replaces the yu dofu with a yuba course prepared table side, served with soy sauce and freshly grated key lime.

Namafu dengaku is deep-fried wheat gluten topped with a flavorful miso paste. The chewiness of the wheat gluten is similar to that of mochi, and the miso paste adds a perfect dose of umami. A savory yuba age, a deep-fried yuba and ground whitefish dish, is served with a slice of lemon with its own single lemon-slice squeezer.

A yuba gratin dish is delightfully cheesy with a perfectly browned crust. The final savory course includes steamed glutinous rice with eel, served with a refreshing clear yuba soup and an assortment of Japanese pickles. The meal is finished off nicely with soybean ice cream dusted with roasted soybean powder and azuki jelly. Private tatami dining rooms are available and highly recommended for an authentic kaiseki experience.

Open daily for lunch (11am–4pm) and dinner (5–10pm)
2F, 2-27-18 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-5412-0855 (several other locations throughout Tokyo)


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