The Art of Soy – Tofu in Kyoto

Shojin Ryori cuisine

Kyoto tofu is the best in the world - perfected by buddhist monks over centuries. Tofu here is varied - from the skin (yuba) to the squares in broth (yudofu) - but never bland and dull. And this also has a lot to do with how Kyoto cuisine has elevated the use of the soybean. On my visits to Kyoto, I will always hunt down some good tofu focused and "shojin ryori" (buddhist cuisine) restaurants and here are some suggestions. To note, all of the restaurants below, except for Seike Yuba,...

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Ajiro in Kyoto is the Temple for Japanese Buddhist Cuisine

Shojin Ryori cuisine

Michelin one-starred Ajiro is certainly the temple of buddhist vegetarian ("shojin ryori") cuisine with the foundation of its food being yuba, the tofu skin that Kyoto is famous for.  I've been here in both winter and summer and have enjoyed both visits immensely. Beautifully presented dishes are brought forth as we scoop the yuba from a simmering box of soy milk. So this is non-stop yuba snacking punctuated by vegetarian presentations of meat dishes. And best of all, whether it's true or...

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Sasagin, Tokyo – Late Summer Goodness at a Favourite Izakaya

Every time I visit Tokyo, I look forward to squeezing in dinner at Sasagin especially when there are seasonal goodies to try. This time round the Sanma fish (or Pacific Saury in english and, according to Wikipedia, also known as the mackerel pike) was in season and it was simply grilled with salt. The Sanma is an oily fish but much less fishy than mackerel or sardine. And when its grilled just right with salt, all you need is a squeeze of lime or lemon. While also known for a great...

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Hanamaru, Tokyo – Best Conveyor Belt Sushi has a Ginza Branch

I'd happily recommend Hanamaru to anyone looking for good sushi in Tokyo and now that its Ginza branch is open, it's even better. This is conveyor belt sushi that renders a visit to a Michelin-starred sushi-ya unnecessary for the most part, especially as I could eat almost 12 times at Hanamaru for the cost of a single meal at the loftier restaurants (JPY 2,500 which is around USD 25 left me very full and happy enough to cry). The fish is fresh and Hanamaru serves some Hokkaido specialities...

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Japan’s Shirakawa-go – Picture Perfect Ginger Bread Houses

Shirakawa-go farm house

They may not be real ginger bread houses, but Shirakawa-go's unique farm houses make the village look like a Christmas log cake came to life. Nestled in Japan's Hida Mountains ("northern alps"), this mountain village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of these historic farmhouses. Because of its location, this is a great place to visit in the winter if you're seeking snow.

Indeed the day I visited just after Christmas 2014, it probably only stopped snowing for just 15 minutes....

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