Housed on the Ryoan-ji temple grounds in one of the lesser buildings named Seigenin, Yudofu-ya specializes in Buddhist cuisine, or strictly vegetarian fare. Yudofu’s specialty is the seven-herb tofu hotpot, one of the three or four lunch sets available. I walked in ordered the yudofu set off the English menu, and sat on the patio edge of the restaurant’s tatami floor, soaking in the serenity of the lush garden onto which the restaurant looks out.
The quality of the tofu was remarkable, although perhaps I should not have been particularly surprised. Kyoto as a city is renowned for its tofu, which prior to its popularization and subsequent commercialization was primarily made in Buddhist temples. In addition, since making tofu is in principle a very simple process, much of the uniqueness and nuances of a well-made tofu come from the quality of soybean and of the water used. With its many springs, Kyoto is blessed with great water, and Yudofu-ya with the long Buddhist tradition of tofu-making.
As I left, en route to Arashiyama, I took a final look back to remember Yudofu-ya’s remarkable surroundings:
13 Goryonoshita-machi, Ryoanji
Ukyo-ku (/off Shimei Dori Rdi, near Gold Pavillion)