Have you tried 豆腐(tofu) before?
Tofu has already become popular all around the world because it’s healthy, nutritious and moreover it’s tasty.
Vegetarians or Vegans take tofu as a great source of protein and ideal substitute for meat.
Here today, I’d like to share with you this lovely tofu restaurant, 岡本とうふ(Okamoto tofu) in 小国町(Oguni-machi, means Oguni town) in 阿蘇(Aso) area, Kumamoto.
After reading this article, I hope you’ll want to go for a drive to enjoy their tofu cuisine.
- 1 Okamoto tofu(岡本とうふ) in Oguni-town Aso Kumamoto
Okamoto tofu(岡本とうふ) in Oguni-town Aso Kumamoto
Learn About 豆腐(Tofu).
First, let’s learn a little bit about tofu.
I guess most people know that it’s made from 大豆(daizu, means soy beans).
But did you know that there is a best season for tofu?
Now, we can get fresh tofu at any time of the year(maybe it’s difficult in your country but in Japan, luckily we can!) so we don’t care about its season.
Domestic soy beans are harvested in autumn to winter.
There is a traditional Japanese poetry called 俳句(Haiku). When people make Haiku, they are supposed to take one seasonal word which is called 季語(Kigo) in its poetry to describe a beautiful and impressive natural moment. Soy beans are Kigo of autumn because of the time of its harvest(I didn’t know it before!).
After harvesting soy beans, farmers store them for a while so that excess water will be gone and the flavor will become stronger.
Tofu, which is made from the first new soy beans harvested of the year, is rich in nutrition and flavor.
So from January to February is considered to be the best time to enjoy fresh tofu.
Don’t miss the best time!
※ By the way, do you know “枝豆(edamame)”?
I’ve heard that it’s also become popular in some countries(I’ve seen it in London!).
Because it’s fresh, healthy and nutritious, it’s the best snack when you drink.
Did you know edamame and soy beans are from same beans?
When they pick them in their early stage, it’s edamame.
After letting beans grow and mature, they are called soy beans.
Interesting, isn’t it? (^-^)
About Okamoto tofu(岡本とうふ) in Oguni-town Aso Kumamoto.
Okamoto tofu is located in Oguni town in Aso area.
Near Okamoto tofu, there is 湧蓋山(Waita-san, means Mt. Waita) which has water source.
In terms of making tofu, clear water is very important so spring water from Mt.Waita enables Okamoto tofu to produce delicious tofu.
Okamoto tofu consists of 3 shops.
One is a tofu shop where you can take out tofu products, such as tofu, あげ(age, which means deep fried tofu), 豆乳(tounyu, means soy milk) etc.
On the left side of the tofu shop is a tofu cafe where you can enjoy tofu sweets, like cakes, softy, ice cream, etc. They also sell souvenirs like bamboo or wooden products which will be interesting to look around.
The last one is a tofu restaurant which stands on the right side of the tofu shop.
They offer you とうふ定食(tofu teishoku) which has several kinds of tofu cuisine.
My friends and I visited Okamoto tofu in the last September so I’d like to share how we enjoyed it.
Amazing Tofu Cuisine at Okamoto tofu(岡本とうふ) in Oguni-town Aso Kumamoto.
We visited Okamoto tofu after admiring the beautiful sunrise in Aso.
I have to tell you that ASO IS AMAZING!
I’ll introduce little by little but I’ve realized recently how lucky I am to live in Kumamoto which has beautiful and grand nature and amazing attractions.
Even in September, it was cold in Aso.
Kumamoto is famous for its crazily hot and humid summer but you can get away from it by visiting Aso area.
We arrived at Okamoto tofu around 9am.
Since we woke up around 4 am to see the sunrise, at the time of arriving there we were almost starving!
Basically, there is one set menu which is とうふ定食(tofu teishoku).
In Japanese restaurants, you often encounter “定食(teishoku)”.
“Teishoku” means set meal which usually consists of rice, miso soup, main dish, side dish and pickles. I’d say it’s a good balanced meal!
We ordered tofu teishoku each.
The main dish in this teishoku is あげ(age, means deep fried tofu).
They serve freshly deep fried tofu and you can eat it with a little bit of soy source on top.
The tofu on the bamboo basket is called ざる豆腐(zaru-tofu).
When it comes to tofu, most of you may think of square shape of tofu.
They use にがり(nigari, means bittern) to set tofu but this zaru-tofu has less nigari so that you can enjoy stronger soy flavor and the softer texture.
There are 3 kinds of side dishes on the bamboo container.
The left one is called 切り干し大根(Kiriboshi-daikon).
Kiriboshi-daikon is dried Japanese radish.
By drying radish, they can get rid of water and the taste get stronger and become more nutritious.
Also it’s convenient for its storage because volume reduces when it’s completely dried. We appreciate the wisdom of people in the past!
The middle one is 田楽(Dengaku) which means tofu or vegetables with miso on the surface. It’s the popular dish in the countryside.
The right one is おから(Okara). Okara is made from soy beans with the process of making tofu.
When people make tofu, they blend water and soy beans which are soaked in water over night. They pour it into a pot and cook it slowly. After cooking it for a while, they strain it so they get soy milk and soy pulp. This soy pulp is “おから(Okara)”.
By the way, mix soy milk and bittern, cook slowly and leave it for a while, you’ll get tofu!
Okara is rich in nutrition and fiber. If you haven’t had it before, at first you may feel the texture is interesting but I’m sure you’ll like it soon.
Since Okara has subtle flavor, you can use it for cooking and also for baking cakes and cookies.
They also serve you soy milk in the bamboo cup.
※ They sell soy milk at the tofu shop in the cold water!
In this teishoku, you can enjoy many types of tofu dishes at most!
Visit Okamoto tofu(岡本とうふ) in Oguni-town Aso Kumamoto.
As I explained, January to February is considered to be the best season for tofu but I’d say you can enjoy amazing tofu at any time of the year, thanks to the clear spring water from Mt.Waita.
Okamoto tofu also has foot bath so it’d be a great place to take rest after a long drive.
It’d be amazing if you enjoy the grand nature in Aso area and have amazing tofu cuisine at Okamoto tofu.
I’m sure both your stomach and heart will be satisfied!