I had read a few blog posts before getting to Kyoto which warned that Shoraian is a hard place to find, so I left plenty of time to get there. Ignore the other posts because it was a cinch, really. We caught a bus from central Kyoto (from Maruto-machi dori at the bottom of the Imperial Palace gardens where we spent the morning) right to Arashiyama Station. It only took around 35 minutes and cost about Y150. With Arashiyama Station to your back, walk left down to the river where you hang a right and walk along the water's edge until you can't walk any further. It'll take 10 or 15 minutes considering you'll want to take some photos of the boats on the gorgeous jade green waters and the colourful trees. You'll eventually come to some roughly cut stone stairs heading up the mountain on your right hand side and then the sign, in Japanese, which points along the stone path towards the restaurant on your left.
|Arashiyama scenes and the entrance to Shoraian|
|Shoraian: from top left Assorted specialties, Yuba, Layered yuba with wasabi, Tofu and burdock|
The proprietor of Shoraian is an accomplished calligraphist and we were presented with a postcard of one of her recent works, which was then reflected in the playful dish resembling the cherry blossom tree. The fluffy tofu blossoms were ethereal and light, while the slightly crunchy burdock root trunk had hints of soy and vinegar. The second dish in this course was a fantastic layered yuba preparation dressed with a light soy and topped with some grated wasabi.
|Shoraian: Yudofu preparation|
|Shoraian: the wonderful tofu gratin with its hidden gems and the fragrant toyuba tempura course|
|Shoraian: Grilled wagyu, Agedashi tofu, rice with fragrant peas and fried baby fish|
|Shoraian: desserts were tofu ice cream in a caramel sauce and a rose bavarois|
We were the only western tourists at Shoraian during the meal but the staff were welcoming and spoke enough English for us to understand each course. The restaurant itself is only small, with three tables arranged by the window, and a larger one that was occupied by eight elderly Japanese. They had supported seating instead of the tatami mats that we made ourselves comfortable on for the two hour meal.
|Arashiyama: Tenryuji Temple and gardens|
|The towering Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama|