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Published: March 30th 2009
We took a cab to Morika Tofu, the master tofu craftmen of Japan.
We took a taxi after breakfast to Morika Tofu Shop on the very outskirts of Kyoto. Our cab driver did not know how to get there. He had to call in to his station to get the coordinates for his modified GPS. Even, then, he said he had never been there. But he did agree that it was the best tofu, in that Morika-san is widely regarded by everybody as the champion tofu maker in all of Japan.
So, we engaged in quite a discussion with our taxi cab driver, his broken English, my broken Japanese. And many hand gestures, voice inflections, smiles and laughs. We drove and we drove, ringing up a huge taxi toll as we went along. We moved from dense inner city, to semi suburbia, to almost country. We turned down a single lane street, as he asked a local resident where Morika was located. Around the corner, he said, as he sped off.
Finally there, about 45 minutes later, we asked him to wait for us. We bought two blocks of tofu, which they packaged quite nicely for us. And we bought one yaki tofu, which had been deep fried that morning as well.
In Front of Morika Tofu
We spent $60 for the cab to get here, so we had to have a photo.
I had to take a bite, and it just melted in my mouth. We had the cab driver take our photo, and I also took some of the little factory with a multitude of employees.
As we walked back to the taxi, I presented one of the tofu to our cab driver. You should have seen his deep bow. He almost reached the ground we were standing on. He was overwhelmed by our gift. He agreed that it was the ichiban tofu in all of Japan. We started talking about all the different ways to use it in Japanese cooking. He called his wife to tell her. And she insisted on talking to me on the phone to thank us. It was just great.
So, it was about a $60 ride to Morika, and then back to our drop off point. The tofu was about $5 each. So $70 for 2 blocks of tofu, and one small piece of yaki tofu. But worth every penny since we enjoyed our banter with the driver. he gave Sheri his prayer beads as a token of his appreciation. We felt very honored. When we ate the tofu, it simply melted in
An Ancient Art
We got to have the best and most expensive tofu in the world, or ichiban as our cab driver proclaimed.
our mouths. Smooth, clean, flavorful, better than a Napa chardonnay.
When we reached our destination, the Nishiki Food Market, he dropped us off. But first, he had to get out of the cab, bow again, and shook our hands, bowed again, and was nearly run over by a motor scooter. It was a great start to a fun filled morning.
We strolled down the narrow alley way of Nishiki, viewing every possible type of food available on this earth. This included hundreds of different fish, pickled vegetables, fresh fruit and vegetables, rice products, crackers, desserts, tea and coffee houses, as well as stores selling kitchen and dining items. It was a little overwhelming.
We finally reached the end of the alley, several blocks later, realizing we only covered half of the market. But crossing this alley was another alley filled with retail stores selling gifts, clothing, souvenirs, and the largest variety of soft goods imaginable. Interspersed were restaurants, cafes, fast food joints, and 7-11/Circle K convenience stores. It was filled with people of all ages, but mostly teenagers. Plenty of middle aged people on bicycles weaved their way through the throngs of kids.
We bought a few things, and started to get hungry. We really wanted to find a place to buy some rice, and a little soy sauce, to go with our treasured tofu. But no such luck. So, we headed back to our hotel area, and had a nice lunch in the underground shopping arcade. We managed to sneak the yaki tofu onto our plate, since I could just not wait any longer. It was the best we have ever had, anywhere. It tasted almost like dessert!!!
So there you have it, a fabulous morning, chasing down the tofu, and watching locals buy every conceivable food in this region. Now it is time to make a dessert run down to the Depato. And get our train tickets for tomorrow's trip to Osaka. See you there, sports and tofu fans.
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