TOKYO SHIBA TOFU-YA UKAI – Tofu Kaiseki, a Traditional Japanese Dining Experience by the Tokyo Tower

Dining date: July 23, 2013

Dining occasion: Lunch: Take course (5,500 Japanese Yen +10%) and Matsu course (6,800 Japanese Yen +10%)

See the Eater’s Highlights:

  • A must visit in Tokyo for a traditional experience of the Japanese Edo culture. The walk in the beautiful 71,000 square foot garden is like a stroll in a sanctuary, away from the busy streets of Tokyo.
  • Reasonably priced lunch sets for the experience, service, and food quality. Two lunch set menu options: Take and Matsu. The only main difference is that the Matsu set comes with an additional course: Sauteed Japanese Sea Bass.
  • As the name suggests, this restaurant specializes in tofu, so it serves a majority of delicate tofu dishes that are all very light and refreshing.
  • Very detailed service from arriving and departing the restaurant. It began to rain as we left the restaurant, so we were each given an umbrella to take with us as we got on the taxi. Basic English was understood at this restaurant.
  • All private, shoes-free tatami dining rooms with a view of the serene garden. The walls and doors are made with traditional Japanese rice paper, so you may still be able to hear the guests of the neighboring rooms.
  • Under the same Ukai restaurant group as Omotesando Ukai-Tei that I previously wrote about.

The Details:

A friend recommended me to dine at this restaurant for lunch, as the price of the full set per person is almost half the price of dinner. Moreover, he indicated that the garden is a great place to relax and catch a view of the Tokyo Tower. Indeed the price is exceptionally reasonable for the experience, food, service, and an opportunity to dine in a private tatami room.

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Entrance

Walking from the entrance and entering the garden

Walking from the entrance and entering the garden

Small gift shop in the garden (unfortunately I did not have time to go in)

Small gift shop in the garden (unfortunately I did not have time to go in)

Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden

Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden

View of the Tokyo Tower from Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden

View of the Tokyo Tower from Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden

Entrance of the building that houses the dining rooms

Entrance of the building that houses the dining rooms

Entrance of the building that houses the dining rooms

Entrance of the building that houses the dining rooms

Private tatami dining room

Private tatami dining room

Private tatami dining room

Private tatami dining room (fish eye camera lens view)

View of the Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden from our private tatami dining room

View of the Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden from our private tatami dining room

View of the Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden from our private tatami dining room

View of the Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden from our private tatami dining room (fish eye camera lens view)

View of the Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai Garden from our private tatami dining room (fish eye camera lens view)

Private tatami dining room

Private tatami dining room decoration

Table setting

Table setting

We were presented with two menu choices, Take and Matsu. We went for one of each menu, although the only main difference is that the Matsu set comes with an extra course: Sauteed Japanese Sea Bass.

Take set

Take set

Matsu set (additional course of Sauteed Japanese Sea Bass)

Matsu set (additional course of Sauteed Japanese Sea Bass)

Both sets come with a course that is cooked by your table side. There are two choices of how you want your tofu to be cooked, in which the whole table must choose the same method. We chose the Tofu in Seasoned Soy Milk option (I forgot what the other option was).

I was too excited that I forgot to take a photo of the first course. This was the Thin Wheat Noodles with Shrimp.

I was too excited that I forgot to take a photo of the first course. This was the Thin Wheat Noodles with Shrimp.

Deep Fried Tofu Coated with Sweet Miso Sauce

Deep Fried Tofu Coated with Sweet Miso Sauce

Green onions to go with the delicious Deep Fried Tofu Coated with Sweet Miso Sauce

Green onions to go with the delicious Deep Fried Tofu Coated with Sweet Miso Sauce

The tofu was fluffy and crispy. The onions along with the sweet and salty miso sauce created a breadth of flavors.

Assorted sashimi

Assorted sashimi

Assorted sashimi

Assorted sashimi

Simmered (Taro & Octopus)

Simmered (Taro & Octopus)

Sweetfish Sushi, Sea Eel and Cucumber Simmered Okara & Flied Shrimp Covered with Rice Crackers

Sweetfish Sushi, Sea Eel and Cucumber Simmered Okara & Fried Shrimp Covered with Rice Crackers

Table side cooking of the Tofu in Seasoned Soy Milk

Table side cooking of the Tofu in Seasoned Soy Milk

Tofu in Seasoned Soy Milk

Tofu in Seasoned Soy Milk

The silky tofu melted in my mouth. You may add the provided soy sauce and kombu if you want a heavier and salty flavor. The dish itself was light and wonderful when eaten plain, but adding soy sauce and kombu was something I have never tried. Both methods are very unique!

Sauteed Japanese Sea Bass (additional course in the Matsu set)

Sauteed Japanese Sea Bass (additional course in the Matsu set)

Rice with Ginger

Rice with Ginger

Rice with Ginger

Rice with Ginger

The rice was flavorful and had a great chewy texture.

Plum and Kudzu Starch Noodles in Sugar Syrup

Plum and Kudzu Starch Noodles in Sugar Syrup

Plum and Kudzu Starch Noodles in Sugar Syrup

Plum and Kudzu Starch Noodles in Sugar Syrup

This dessert is one that I still crave today. It is not too sweet, but it is flavorful with a touch of sourness from the plum. The noodles are made to a wonderful chewy texture.

A final video to give you a sense of the serene environment.

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I highly recommend Tokyo Shiba Tofu-ya Ukai for lunch, especially for its unique experience, cuisine, and exceptional service. I would suggest leaving some extra time after lunch to take a walk in the peaceful garden. The views are great photo opportunities.

The service is one-on-one after we chose which menu we wanted. From the first course to the end, we were served by the same waitress. She kneel by our table to serve us every time she came in, a very traditional Japanese serving method. Finally, she led us out of the restaurant, gave each of us umbrellas to take with us in the raining afternoon, and bowed as our taxi drove away.

Tokyo Shiba Tofuya-Ukai http://www.ukai.co.jp/english/shiba/

Address: 4-4-13 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan Phone:+81 3-3436-1028