Enjoy elegant tofu fare in Hiroshima

Enjoy elegant tofu fare in Hiroshima

by JJ Walsh

Ume no Hana (梅の花) is a traditional Japanese style restaurant in the Fukuya department store (LL-A-kan) across from the main Hiroshima station exit. This is a wonderful place to impress a special guest or to give yourself a treat. The type of food served is termed kaiseki ryori multi-course set meals using fresh seasonal ingredients presented beautifully. Apparently, this style was originally created in combination with tea ceremony as the emphasis is as much on esthetic appeal as it is on taste.

What’s unique about this restaurant is that almost all of the high calibre dishes are made entirely from tofu. Most of the dishes are made with tofu or a derivative soya product like bean curd, yuba, dengaku or to-nyu soy milk used to make creamy gratin, ice cream and so on.

The set menu dishes are staggered in order to be properly appreciated and savored. Eating lunch can be quicker, but if you are dining in the evening expect a course to take about an hour. The look and taste of every course is very traditional and the presentation of each dish is extremely beautiful.

I have eaten here many times for different occasions and always been impressed by the quality of the food and service. Although the constant element of all the dishes is tofu and yuba, there is also meat and seafood mixed in which are varied each season.

Some of the most popular dishes which are made with yuba (a type of hardened film made from boiled soy milk) are in combination with grilled meats or served with different vegetables and dipping sauces. Soya steamed chawamushi (egg-custard) which is a delicate flavored dish with a few beans, vegetables and chicken set inside. Sliced raw sashimi fish on a bed of grated radish with shiso leaf went beautifully with the steamed tofu dumpling and marinated tofu dishes. A recent favorite is the shabu shabu meat and vegetable slices cooked in a broth of soy milk at your table.

The atmosphere of Ume no Hana is very quiet and peaceful, it is only obvious you are inside a department store when you have to use the restroom- as you have to walk down the hall outside the restaurant to the main toilets on the same floor.

It is best to order in advance, but a range of dishes and courses are also available to walk-ins. The menu offers set meals which range between ¥2,000 and ¥9,000 per person (not including drinks) as well as à la carte dishes from ¥600. Prices might be a little high, but the taste of all the dishes is delicate, delicious and beautifully presented. If you like Japanese cuisine, you will not be disappointed.

As Ume no Hana is on the 11th floor, you get a great view of the city, especially in the evening when the city is full of lights. There is one private room for a group up to 8 people with a low horigotatsu table where you can extend your feet under. From this room, there is a great bird’s eye view of the city including the new Zoom Zoom baseball stadium. Many of the rooms do not have a view but are tastefully decorated and very pleasant to spend time in.

There are branches of this restaurant all over Japan. In the Chugoku region, you can find it in Okayama city and Fukuyama city centers as well as this one near the main Hiroshima station.

Although many dishes are suitable for vegetarians, there are a few dishes which include fish or meat, please tell your server of your dietary requirements before ordering a set or dish from the menu. Kids sets are available at lunch for ¥1,500 which includes rice balls, meats and other dishes children like, a drink and dessert as well as a toy.

FUKUYA Hiroshima Station Square Bldg. 11F, 9-1 Matsubaramachi, Minamiku, Hiroshimashi, Hiroshima
Tel: 0120-17-2066
URL: www.umenohana.co.jp/n_english/


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