The Jerusalem Post

Tofu-An: A gourmet experience for vegans - review

 Tofu-An (photo credit: DAVID DEUTSCH)
(photo credit: DAVID DEUTSCH)

We enjoyed our visit to Tofu-An, which for me was an interesting experience and for David was a gourmet happening. He’s planning to go back next week with some fellow vegans.

At this point, my carnivorous friends from my shul, who follow my food columns closely, can stop reading. The review this week is a strictly vegan eatery in Binyamina, and my regular companion, who was anyway away sailing with his mates in Montenegro, gladly ceded his place to our vegan son David, who accompanied me to the restaurant.

Binyamina is a pastoral town north of Netanya, memorialized by the great late musician and lyricist Ehud Manor in several of his songs.

The first surprise on entering Tofu-An is meeting the proprietor and main chef, Jun Kamotani, from Hiroshima.

I’m used to meeting people from all over the world in Israel, but Hiroshima – the site where the first atomic bomb was dropped which, together with the second bombing at Nagasaki, killed an estimated 110,000 people – was a chilling reminder of the horrors of war. “My parents lived 40 km. away and saw the blast,” says Jun.


Tasting vegan food and learning a life story

But to return to happier thoughts, like food, we sat down in the rather sparsely covered patio of the restaurant, not just to taste the food, but to discover why someone from Japan would live in Israel for 25 years, as Jun has done.

 Tofu-An (credit: DAVID DEUTSCH)
Tofu-An (credit: DAVID DEUTSCH)

“I came on a visit here, and I straight away loved the people, the weather, the freedom, and the energy,” she says. “I also wanted to learn to make tofu.”

She has certainly succeeded, as many of the dishes on the menu are based on tofu in various forms.

Tofu, made from soybeans, is a remarkably tasteless food. After years of cooking it for my vegan child, I have managed to make it taste edible by the addition of various condiments – soy, teriyaki – loads of garlic, salt, and pepper. Jun fries a lot of the tofu she uses in her dishes and this helps too. Crispy tofu is quite flavorsome.

Although it was lunchtime, and I don’t drink before 6 p.m. usually, the little table sign suggesting a glass of sake for NIS 7 seemed an excellent idea. My son drank tap water, his favorite beverage.


We began with agedashi, fried tofu in a hot, spicy sauce. The dish included a generous amount of shitake mushrooms and chopped scallions and was a great starter (NIS 28).

Next to appear were gyoza, little fried triangular dumplings served with salad and shredded purple cabbage (NIS 24). The achar sauce on the side, an Indian fruit-based condiment added to the attractiveness of the dish.

We also shared a vegetable teriyaki dish that consisted of every known and seasonal vegetable in a sweet and savory sauce, with more fried tofu, and sesame seeds (NIS 40/54).

Yet another dish arrived – a plate of white and brown tofu showcasing the versatility of this natural food.

We asked about desserts and there was one – tapioca with adzuki beans. It was prettily presented with halved green grapes, and the beans were quite sweet.

We enjoyed our visit to Tofu-An, which for me was an interesting experience and for David was a gourmet happening. He’s planning to go back next week with some fellow vegans.

  • Tofu-An
  • 74 Ha’atzmaut St., Binyamina
  • (04) 844-4140
  • Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • Closed Saturday to Monday.
  • Strictly vegan; no kashrut certification
  • The writer was a guest of the restaurant.