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The town of Ureshino in Saga prefecture is famous for two things that are both vital to the health and beauty of Japanese citizens: green tea and onsen (hot springs). Both are important for beautiful skin and longevity, which Japanese people are historically known for. Ureshino’s hot springs are unique because of their rich component of alkaline. This unique quality in the naturally spewing water brings about a cuisine that’s distinct and only found in this region.
A unique way to eat tofu!
This dish is called onsen yudofu, which is made by boiling tofu in a ceramic bowl using the region’s Ureshino hot spring water. The mentioned high content of alkaline in this natural hot spring reacts with the components in tofu, which then makes the tofu more soft and smooth. Yudofu is a common breakfast dish for local residents, who can even order yudofu cooking sets at stores and online. These pre-made sets come with clean hot spring water to boil, tofu, seasoning, and sauce. For visitors wanting a taste of this local cuisine, there are a few restaurants specializing in yudofu, too.
Where can I try Onsen Yudofu?
Souan Yokocho (宗庵 よこ長 )is a famous yudofu spot, right in the heart of Ureshino Onsen town. The walls inside the restaurant are decorated with celebrities’ signatures and television or newspaper clippings showcasing the restaurant’s hit yudofu dish. Souan Yokocho is said to be where yudofu originated from for visitors to try the local favorite. The restaurant takes pride in its yudofu and takes every step the make the dish authentic and perfect. Souan Yokocho uses their own homemade tofu for the dish, and you can really taste the difference from store-bought ones.
I ordered the popular yudofu set, which came with the yudofu in the traditional ceramic bowl, boiled with other ingredients besides tofu such as kamaboko fish cake, shiitake mushroom, onion, and shrimp. The server explained to me how to eat the dish; “Add the condiments and the sauce as much as you like, though the tofu is sweet on its own as is!” The typical condiments for yudofu are grated ginger and thin long onion, much like the condiments for Japanese soba dishes. The sauce is a sweet, soy sauce like brown liquid that was also delicious. Be careful when you take a bite, though, because I can guarantee that it will be piping hot. Oftentimes, people imagine onsen (hot springs) to give off the strong (and unpleasant) smell of sulfur. But Ureshino’s waters don’t do this, so you can enjoy the dish without worries of such smells.
Yudofu is an inexpensive Japanese delicacy!
The set, for only ¥950, also comes with rice, pickled and boiled vegetables, sweet beans, and Japanese potato salad. I couldn’t resist but to order the restaurant’s famous okara croquette, which is a deep fried ball made of soy pulp remains that come out during the production of tofu. It has a naturally sweet taste and multiple health benefits.
This restaurant also serves other typical Japanese dishes such as soba and udon noodles, and rice bowls. Make sure to take advantage of the self-serving green tea machine, too!
Yudofu sets from Souan Yokocho can be purchased and mailed to you through their online store here.
Official Website : here (Only in Japanese )
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|Address||2190 Otsu, Ureshinomachi Shimojuku, Ureshino 8430-0301, Saga Prefecture|
|Access||[map]2190 Otsu, Ureshinomachi Shimojuku, Ureshino 8430-0301, Saga Prefecture[/map]|
|Opening Hours||10:00 - 21:00|
|Price Range||¥1,000 - ¥2,000|