Yuba in Arashiyama

Appreciating the Emperor's chosen food

By Cordelia Ding   Jul 23, 2016 - 3 min read

As you stroll the streets of Arashiyama, the region in Kyoto famous for its stunning Bamboo Forest, frivolous monkeys, and the zen garden of World Heritage Site Tenryu-ji, you will see many stores selling products with what is called "yuba" or "yodofu." Some products include yuba soft-serve, yuba shakes, and more. What is yuba? Yuba is the thin, delicate layer of tofu skin that is collected after soy milk is boiled. The top layer of the boiled soy milk is removed, the yuba, and is cooked in different ways including in soups and in salads.

At Saga Tofu Ine in Arashiyama, yuba and different types of tofu are served in many different ways. Some dishes are roasted, some are boiled, and some fried. Saga Tofu Ine is located about ten minutes by foot from the JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, and is situated directly across from the temple, Tenryu-ii. One may sit on the second floor and look into the temple and the greenery with a peaceful mind and a big appetite.

There are a few different choices when it comes the tofu sets. There is the Nomiya Dish, which centers around the boiled tofu dish. The Saga Dish, which is a more extensive version of the Nomiya Dish. The Pail Yuba Dish, with the yuba served in the classic bamboo pail. The Kyoto-style Yuba Dish with a yuba stew. There are also two other sets, one with wheat noodles, and one with select yuba dishes - the cheapest at ¥980, and the most expensive at ¥2380.

During my visit, I tried the Kyoto-Style Yuba Set. The set came with a bowl of warm yuba served with a sweet and salty sauce, tofu and vegetable tempura, mochi with sauce, warabi mochi, and plenty of other little dishes including roasted sesame tofu and Kyoto style pickles. The yuba in the warm stone bowl melted delightfully in my mouth, and I found myself finishing the bowl quicker than expected! The clear soup with seaweed was also a surprise for me. It looked like such a simplistic soup, and yet the flavors were very complex! It tasted like the ocean on a hot summers day, in the best way possible. The seaweed kelp in the soup was especially refreshing too. I enjoyed my lunch by the window as I looked into the forestry surrounding Tenryu-Ji, and slowly made me way through each of the new dishes served on the large tray placed in front of me.

For ¥1620, this tofu set is a deal and a party in the mouth, so be sure to drop by after traversing the Bamboo forest, or seeing the monkey park in Arashiyama.

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Cordelia Ding

Cordelia Ding @Cordelia Ding

A college student currently in Tokyo, Japan