|The entrance of Ume no Hana|
Oh Tokyo.. how I love thee. Flower blossoms in spring, temples, giant buddhas in the middle of the mountains, the most confusing metro system with kanji I don't understand and the most incredible food in the world. I love being in Japan and having an American-esque experience of being able to literally eat a different type of cuisine each night. The variety is just amazing. I'm not talking about being able to eat cuisine from different areas around the world (even though this is indeed possible) but I am talking about the possibility to eat a different type of Japanese cuisine itself, each evening.
In Japan, quite honestly the most incredible culinary aspect of the country is that you can choose among over 20 different micro cuisines of the larger grouping of Japanese. The cuisine varies from sushi, shabu shabby, Kaiseki, Raisu (Curry), Soba (handmade), Udon, Ramen, Yakisoba, Sukiyaki, Yakitori, Yudofu, to Tempura and various others.
The two that I was dying to experiment with before heading back to my home away from home Paris was Yodufo and Sukiyaki. Two foreign terms to most Westerns and the more foreign the better in my book :) Essentially I was choosing between meat slowly simmered at the table alongside vegetables and before eaten, dipped in raw egg OR a tofu lunch. Quite a difference, I know, but I had never had either and was ridiculously excited to try both. Yudufo I decided for lunch and Sukiyaki for dinner.
I was lucky enough to have a Japanese friend in Tokyo who knew the perfect Yudofu place which all of her friends had raved about but she had never been to. Ume no Hana was the restaurant and it literally means plum flower. It was a perfect name and perfect restaurant for the season we were experiencing during my April trip to Japan (cherry blossom season).
Ume no Hana is an old school establishment and focused on tofu. It's prepared in more ways than you can even begin to imagine-boiled, served in custard, steam, wrapped in layers around fish, etc. The beauty is that you certainly do not need to be a passionate tofu lover per se to enjoy this experience. The chefs glorious creations are subtle transformations of tofu leaving it recognizable but oh so tasty, flavorful and rich. Their sublime creations I think could turn even a tofu hater into a quick believer. Tofu is typically regarded as the perfect high-protein dish yet Ume no Hana brings the dish to a level of haute cuisine. The decor is minimalist and you quickly are led into your own small room to enjoy your lunch. The server presses a botton and there opens your bamboo sliding doors to your little private space for the afternoon, a tranquil little room where you will enjoy a nice relaxing lunch. You have the option to pick various menus and we chose a 42 euro or 42,000 Yen option for lunch which came with about 9 or so courses.
|The full menu|
|Various veggies- snap peas and squash cooked in a vegetable broth|
|The various mountain vegetables (Nemagaridake (bamboo shoots), fuki-no-to-(flower shoots of butter bur), etc are shown in the basket and the fried veggie tofu. |
|A nice bright salad of seasonal greens and a vinegar and peanut based sauce|
|Strawberry ice cream and a azuki jelly based dessert with raspberries|
|Our beautiful little private room. The guest always sits furthest from the door|
Location: Several in Tokyo but we went to the one in Aoyama/ Gaienmae located in Aoyama M's Tower