Nope, not tofu. If you guessed GLUTEN, you win the prize!
Yes, at Fumuroya, not only is the savory, marshmallow-like goodie known as fū prepared in surprising and satisfying ways, the 9-course lunch set I ate with friends was so good, I sneaked back by myself to try it again!
If this is the first time you’ve heard of this very Japanese delicacy from Kanazawa, you may be surprised to hear that it’s fairly likely you’ve already eaten it. It’s soft and chewy and most often encountered in soups, brightly tinted and cut into seasonal shapes, like neon Lucky Charms.
Fū takes on the flavor of the foods it’s cooked with, so it’s usually added to provide a pleasingly chewy element to a dish. But at Fumuroya—the elegant cafe at the Suntory Museum of Art in Roppongi—this modest ingredient takes center stage, each dish cooked with a different technique, for a surprising array of flavors and textures.
With apologies to the poor souls who are gluten intolerant and would only be able to sample the rice, here’s what these dishes are, from top left to bottom right:
1: Miso soup with simmered fū, vegetables and wasabi
2: Clear soup with dissolving fū purse, chicken and vegetables
3: Five-grain rice
4: Sweet dessert fū filled with red bean jam and wrapped in a bamboo leaf
5: Skewered fū with miso dengaku sauce
6: Yomogi (mugwort) flavored fū sashimi slices with grated ginger
7: Crispy fried fū bits with pickled vegetables
8: Fū sautéed with greens and enoki mushrooms
9: Breaded and deep fried fū with tonkatsu sauce
The soup with dissolving fū purse is an especially delightful thing to encounter—it starts out crispy with little flavor bits rattling around inside, but as it absorbs the soup broth it softens, so you can poke it and break it open, allowing the inner ingredients to deepen the taste of the soup.
If you’d like to visit the fū restaurant the next time you’re in Tokyo, they’re located next to the gift shop at the Suntory Museum of Art, in the Roppongi Midtown shopping complex. Hours, menu and other information (in Japanese) are on their website.
In addition to their single nine-course lunch offering, Fumuroya also offers an afternoon cake setto (hot/cold drink plus a dessert made with—you guessed it—fū). They also sell the dissolving fū purses in packs of three, so you can wow your dinner guests back home with their magic!
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for
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“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist
Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had
2 thoughts on “What ingredient do you think THIS Japanese restaurant is famous for?”
Oooooooh, baby. I do love me some fu. Maybe someday you and I can go there together!
I would so look forward to that!