16. Tofu Restaurants: You're on Notice--KenHello. Moshi-moshi.
Here ye, here ye, Tofu restaurants, you're on notice.
Many vegetarians like tofu. Many vegetarians in Japan will seek tofu. So what gives with the "We don't have anything vegetarian at our tofu restaurant."
Way back in 2004, I walked along Kiyamachi-dori, and came across this elegant restaurant sign and photographed it. It wasn't until I got home that one of my Japanese colleagues saw the picture, read the sign, and told me that it says that this is a "tofu restaurant."
Fast forward to 2007. Kathryn and I walked up the same street, and I recognized the place immediately. Despite my complete Kanji illiteracy, I knew that this was a tofu restaurant.
Sure enough, just inside the entryway, there was a counter selling fresh tofu. We asked the nice woman there about vegetarian options, causing her to hail the owner. Back we went through the wooden alleyway and into the garden where the owner met us at the restaurant door.
We asked, he understood, and his answer was polite but curt, "No, we can't make a vegetarian meal."
I'll let you draw your own conclusions. You can guess mine.