Originating from China, tofu may have been the result of a happy mistake in the kitchen. It was then brought to Japan in the 1500s by Buddhist monks who opened tofu shops and vegetarian restaurants. The publication of the recipe book Tofu Hyakuchin (A Hundred Tofu Delicacies) in 1782 and its subsequent popularity helped make tofu a familiar ingredient in Japanese households and establish itself as a national food. Tofu masters, expert at various aspects of tofu making, emerged, their excellence manifested in flawless cakes of tofu.
By itself, tofu has a mild taste that goes well with a lot of different sauces. It is an adaptable ingredient, lending itself to various cooking methods. Virtually thousands of dishes can be created and customized with tofu from appetizers to desserts.
Tofubou (豆腐厨房) is a wonderful place to experience the versatility of tofu. This is where you can get tofu donuts (¥350 for a pack of 5 rings) which are light, springy, not oily and with just the right amount of sweetness. This shop also serves tofu soft cream (¥300 for a cone or cup). In another Odigo article, I wrote about THE best milk soft cream I have ever had. This is that soft cream's nondairy cousin. Perfect for a hot summer day, this healthy and refreshing treat accentuates the delicate flavor of tofu. The shop carries tofu pudding and frozen tofu yoghurt in a variety of flavors.
Looking for something to supplement your dinner? Check out the wide variety of ready to eat items such as karaage (deep fried tofu product that tastes like its chicken counterpart), tofu hamburger (a bestseller), and agedashi tofu (fried tofu with garnish). The refrigerated section carries soy cream, yuba (tofu skin accumulated when soymilk is boiled), and fresh tubs of tofu flavored with tomato, yuzu (Japanese citrus), edamame, and black sesame.
Want to try everything? Then Tofubou's lunch buffet is for you. For ¥1000 (plus tax), you can enjoy a range of tofu dishes from salads, soups, main dishes, to desserts. The buffet is available in cooler weather. During the hot summer season, Tofubou serves set lunches.