Umenohana, Gaienmae 梅の花外苑前
I was first put on to Umenohana (meaning plum blossom) by my excellent Japanese teacher, Ms Genta of the Kitani Method School. Let me digress by saying that these are the best Japanese teachers in town, and have helped me tremendously in the past few years properly come to grips with that devilishly frustrating language!
They are also clearly very good at recommending food. Umenohana is part of a chain, but this does not equate to mediocrity for them. I had an extremely enjoyable lunch there some months ago, and recently tried them out again for a Sunday lunch. The food was absolutely amazing. And, as someone who never thought I could register such a high sensory hedonic score from tofu cuisine, I must say I was surprised.
My tastes are probably becoming more sensitive after having lived in Japan for so long, but this meal was superb. The service is also very good, but I would criticise our server on the latest visit for being a little bit spaced out and inattentive at times.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Umenohana for business or pleasure, and I think you could just as easily take a foreigner as a Japanese. If you can't read the menu, just pick one of the sets at random. The set my dining partner and I ate was 3,600 yen and only 1,105 calories (gotta love low fat Japanese food). That sounds like an expensive lunch set but compared to the variety, volume and quality of the meal it's an absolute steal.
Tofu with yummy, sweet green stuff!
Chawanmushi was delicious.
Crab and tofu dumpling. Wow!
Moriawase of absolutely delectable bits and pieces. I can't even describe how great this was!
Yudedofu (boiled tofu with yuba). This is yummy with a little bit of soy sauce and ginger.
Dessert (which could hardly be fitted in) of a-bitter-root-whose-name-escapes-me ice-cream and sakura mochi. Both are kind of challenging tastes if you're used to western desserts but, certainly good for something different.