Venture back in time to the elegance of Edo, this is another great place in the Ukai chain of restaurants that specialise in tofu kaiseki. Enjoy tofu that you cannot taste anywhere else.
At Tofuya Ukai Saginuma, you can dine while enjoying the view of the Japanese tradition garden year round while being surrounded by the sound of traditional Japanese music. The tofu is made with premium water drawn from a 120-m deep well and high-quality soybeans.
Tofu ＆ Beef Hot Pot Course <花> コースとうふ牛なべ
A very opulent Kaiseki course that included their signature tofu in multiple ways to enjoy the different texture. The whole experience starts the moment you enter the premises, with the Japanese garden and a traditional tatami main hall.
They have a tofu making demonstration every evening, and you get to taste the very soft bean curd. And this is also the introduction to our first course of the Kaiseki dinner.
1/ Soft Tofuくみあげとうふ
Kumiage (soft) tofu くみあげとうふ is served in a traditional wooden pail and the amount is much more for the group in the room.
The experience continues from the entrance with the table setting. Everything used is handcrafted with the high quality that the Japanese lacquerware and tableware are. Definitely not the Daiso variety here.
Everyone gets a soft serve portion in their enamel lacquered bowl. You are advised to taste it in three steps, firstly as it is, then with a pinch of salt and finally with the soy bean milk. Every step of the way, the strong taste of the soy bean is demonstrated in different ways, from the rawness in the tofu to the rich silky milk.
2/ Charcoal-grilled Deep-fried Tofu 揚げ炭火焼
This is their piece de resistance, the tofu that built the empire.
There are two different types of tofu in Charcoal-grilled Deep-fried Tofu 揚げ炭火焼 – a deep-fried tofu and a puffed-up tofu like our taupok.
3/ Sashimi on hassun plate お造り八寸
Typically two different courses in a Kaiseiki, they have combined the sashimi course in a hassun type presentation. Sashimi on hassun plate お造り八寸 features three types of sashimi.
Skirtings of abalone in sweet fruit vinegar
Hamachi ceviche Japanese style
Octopus with fruit tomato and ponzu jelly
Salt-grilled ayu 鮎塩焼き
We ordered a seasonal ala carte item – salt-grilled ayu 鮎 from Nagano Prefecture Tenryu River 長野県天竜川. Tenryu-kyo is a fascinatingly beautiful valley located in a national park along the Tenryu River. The river originates at Suwa Lake and flows out to the Pacific Ocean, carving this picturesque canyon along the way. Weather-eroded rock formations and dynamic cliff faces add to the valley’s attraction. One of the more popular ways to enjoy the valley is on a river rafting tour. Some tours feature a fishing demonstration with any fish caught cooked right there on the boat for the guests. In summer, ayu (sweetfish) is in season.
Ayu is a strange fish, just like the parrot fish that gets belly is clean and plump with roe in spring, the belly is clean and guts are sweet only in summer. Its flesh has a distinctive, sweet flavour with “melon and cucumber aromas”. A common method of preparing ayu in Japan is to skewer it in such a way so that its body forms a wave, making it look as though it is swimming.
The fish is well-salted and grilled to perfection. The salty skin contrasted with the sweet flesh of ayu.
4/ Main Dish Tofu & Beef Hot Pot とうふ牛なべ
The next course Main Dish Tofu & Beef Hot Pot とうふ牛なべ of the kaiseki is beef hotpot served their house-made tofu and wagyu beef. The beef is served in two way – a yakiniku cut served broiled in the shoyu dashi broth and shabu-shabu.
Karubi slices of wagyu beef is simmered in shoyu dashi for the first part of the hotpot. The beef remained tender despite simmering in the hotpot to well-done. The customary tofu is added with a couple of beef meatballs to make a good start to the hotpot.
I didn’t catch what wagyu it was, but the beef used is of very high quality and comparable to best Kagoshima or Kobe.
The second part of the hotpot is the shabby-shabu using the premium wagyu beef tenderloin. Served with onions, shimeiji mushrooms and mizuna lettuce, the beef melts in your mouth like butter.
5/ Meal 食事
Meal 食事 served with konomono is made from the soup from the hotpot. The waitress put a bowl of Japanese rice into the stock and add a beaten egg. The resulting porridge is topped with nori, so the beefy stock with the umami from the nori created one of the best porridge. If you like the konomono (seasonal pickles), it can be purchased at their store.
6/ Dessert 甘味
Finally, the Dessert 甘味. Tofu pudding with sweet red bean sauce and a nice cup of hot oolong tea. I was disappointed that they did not serve any fruits.
This is a fine dining restaurant, the service is immaculate, but the elegance is in the details. From the copper pot which they serve their tea to the handcrafted bamboo toothpicks presented to you in an ancient lacquerware box, the devil is in the details.
Getting to the restaurant, you need to go through a suburb of Tokyo. The view from the electric train once it got out of the tunnel is quite pleasant, just like what you would see in Japanese anime.
In spring, cherry blossom trees on “spring waiting hill” 「春待坂」that stretches from the “Saginuma” train station 「鷺沼」駅 to the restaurant will be in full bloom. Many sakura-fans will visit the restaurant during these times.
Around the private rooms, a Japanese garden where you can enjoy seasonal views and an elegant space reminiscent of Edo, you can enjoy a relaxing meal.
A spacious store with 30 private rooms and a seating area for up to 80 people. The garden is beautiful and each room has large sliding doors which look over the large traditional garden.
At the souvenir shop, you can buy their special tofu items to continue your experience at Ukai at home, such as “Kumiage Tofu”「くみあげとうふ」 and “Seasonal Pickles” 「季節のがんも」.
In the restaurant, they have created a world of its own. The courses are updated regularly based on the ingredients of the season, so you are guaranteed a surprising good meal every time.
Tofuya Ukai Saginuma とうふ屋うかい 鷺沼店
1-18-4 Saginuma, Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa 216-0004
Tel : 044-865-1028
Date Visited : Jun 2019