Kochfreunde.com is the culinary magazine of Oliver Wagner. Here, everything revolves around the almost most beautiful thing in the world: good food. The focus ranges from reports on exciting restaurants to recipes from his own kitchen, cookbooks and culinary gadgets.


Kochfreunde.com ist das kulinarisches Magazin von Oliver Wagner. Hier dreht sich alles rund um die beinahe schönste Sache der Welt: Gutes Essen. Dabei reicht der Fokus von Berichten über spannende Restaurants bis hin zu Rezepten aus der eigenen Küche, Kochbücher und kulinarische Gadgets.

The best tofu in the world?

Tofu? Nothing is more boring than this cubed tastelessness. You would think so. Yet behind the denatured proteins of soy milk lies a genuine craft with a centuries-old tradition. However, the tasteless and industrially produced tofu offered here, often primarily for vegetarian or vegan dishes, has about as much in common with it as canned tuna with a fine piece of Otoro sushi.

I first heard about Toyoukeya, the oldest tofu factory in Kyoto, on the Monocle podcast The Menu. For 130 years, tofu has been produced in all its classic varieties in this very place. This makes Toyoukeya not only one of the oldest tofu producers in Kyoto, but probably in all of Japan. The business is managed by Yamamto-San, who is now 76 years old.

In general, Kyoto’s cuisine is characterized by the white soybean dough. In addition to the many traditional and original dishes of the region, which from a culinary point of view is considered the best and most original in the country, especially the “Shojin-ryori”, which originated from Buddhist teachings, plays a major role. A reduced cuisine initially developed for pilgrims and monks, it has evolved into a delicacy despite its extremely limited list of ingredients – rice, vegetables, tofu and a few spices.

If you want to get a feel for this very cuisine at Toyoukeya, but especially the homemade tofu, you can either join the long line in front of the small restaurant or a not insignificantly shorter line in front of a small store that sells the specialties of the house and in whose premises the production is also located.

And right here we purchased a large cross-section of the offer. Silken tofu, yuba, stuffed tofu and fermented tofu. With that, at around 32 degrees and bright sunshine, we had a great lunch outdoors in a neighboring park.

And right here, in this park overlooking the ancient temples and shrines so typical of Kyoto, this is where I first ate yuba, the rectangular skin leaves of soy milk. With a touch (a big one) of the soy-based sauce recommended for it. A sensational, creamy consistency. And, unlike the industrial tofu described at the beginning, real, delicate flavor, slightly nutty and a little mineral. The special quality of the water in Kyoto also contributes to this. Toyoukeya relies here exclusively on its own small well with very high alkalinity. Also great: balls of tofu with a filling of kombu and coarse-grained mustard.

And besides the great tofu from to a picnic in the park, what goes better than karaage, the ubiquitous deep-fried chicken skewers. After all, Yamamto-San recommends exactly that: tofu should ideally always be combined with meat…


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