Having a craving for freshly made tofu, I, being a westside resident, felt that I should give Ume no Hana a try.
The place, just like many mentioned, was fairly empty. No reservations were needed and there seemed to be only 5 other tables that were eatting. Upon entry, I also noticed a bar outside though that was empty as well. The entire place felt like I was walking into a Spa more than a restaurant but I didn't let that bother me too much. After reading the menu, I decided on ordering the Shiawase Zen dinner for $53.
1st course started out with a tofu and greens salad with prosciutto and fried lotus root. The dressing here was a seaseme oil vinegarette. Very good starter and the lotus root/prosciutto combo worked very well for me.
2nd course was cucumber and shrimp with tofu yogurt sauce. I must say, the yogurt sauce was amazing. Very refreshing after the salad vinegarette and the yogurt sauce matched well with shrimp and cucumbers.
3rd course was the infamous tofu siumai that everyone seemed to enjoy. This was a clear winner. No wonder so many people liked this dish. A mixture of tofu shrimp and chicken minced well steamed, and a little dab of spicy mustard on top made this dish completely enjoyable.
In between this dish and the next came a fresh crate of tofu getting prepared and heating up at the table. The warm waitress gave specific notice that the heater only reacts to metal and we should not peak if we wanted good tofu.
So before my curiousity peaked, the 4th course came out. This was the Yuba skin in the wooden tub. Fishing out in the soy milk with Spinach leaves. The bonito infused soy and ginger added wonders to the dish. Very well to extract the subtle flavours of Yuba out as the main focal point of the dish.
5th course that came out was the Tofu steak. Although there were people saying that this was very ordinary, I thought it was executed well. The broccoli and small potato on the side was a bit Americanized but the sizzling tofu topped with red miso was heavenly. I can eat a bigger slice anyday.
6th came the chawanmushi. I find this to be somewhat of a disappointment. I have had better chawan mushi else where. Steamed egg custard with shiitake and shrimp. I opted for the traditional version but I still found this to be just a filler.
After all the waiting, the fresh tofu was finally done. I love freshly made tofu. The silky soft texture when its done right is amazing. I must admit that though I did have better, softer, silkier tofu in my life, this was still pretty darn good. Two sauces were made to compliment each other. I sampled the veggie sauce (seems more like a gravy with carrots, spinach and mushroom) first. I thought this was nothing special aside from the freshly made tofu. Then I tried the meat sauce, made similar to mabo tofu. This was amazing. I cannot go into words how good this sauce was. After taking a couple more bites. I went back to the veggie sauce and I thought to myself, wow, going back and forth works really well. The spiciness of the meat sauce gets dulled by the vegetable sauce rather quickly.
By this time, I was getting stuffed. But I braved on as there were so many more courses left to enjoy.
The last tofu dish came out. Probably my favorite overall, was the shrimp wrapped with yuba lightly fried. With a little bit of lemon, the light batter, yuba, and shrimp came together very well. I think is time to move those crabcakes away from my fridge and load more of these bad boys in.
A refresher course came, the wasabi sorbet. Very interesting as the sweetness seemed to dominate but also allowed for a much interesting kick that you expect from wasabi at the end.
Finally, the sashimi and sushi is served. I hate to say, this was probably the disappointment in the meal. I can easily do away with Uni, Tuna, Ebi nigiri, and the california roll. The interesting ones were their specialty. On the side of the sashimi box, there was Yuba skin with Ikura. Very good. And their special roll which consisted of edamame infused nori wrapped with yuba and sundried tomatoes was also very good.
Overall, the meal was very good. The price was fair considering how many courses I went through. Quality of most ingredients was excellent. I would definitely venture back but not for the menu. Most likely I would probably order a la carte and have the shiu mai and ebi shinjo (shrimp and yuba roll), throw in some inaniwa udon and maybe get the tofu steak.
Its sad that such a good restaurant is not getting good business around the neighborhood. It would be a shame to see this restaurant go.
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