I had wanted to finish all my San Francisco posts, but a semi-spontaneous visit to the city w/ N, Y, B, and J last weekend will have to interrupt that once again. After we arrived at around 8:30 and finally found parking by 9, we trotted over to Kyotofu in Hell's Kitchen for some grub.
Kyotofu, which opened in November 2006, operates primarily as a dessert bar, though it now offers a limited lunch menu and a bakery. The desserts all feature such Japanese ingredients as sesame, green tea, bean paste, and would you think it, tofu. It also has a good-sized list of sakes and cocktails. The place is pretty miniature, so this is the bar with about 3 seats.
To the right of the bar is the open kitchen, where you see all the desserts and savories prepared here. It's pretty cool, but not so much when you're hungry/disgruntled and waiting for a seat.
We were seated after a short wait in the dining room, a chic white room with white upholstered seats and a soft glow (and hence, my poorly lit pictures). The place was designed by the architect responsible for Momofuku and Jewel Bako, and I definitely saw these influences. The whole restaurant is simple but elegant, upscale without being ostentatious. The Williams-Sonoma grapefruit lotion in the bathroom was a nice touch too.
Black sesame sweet tofu - hoji-cha tea syrup, white sesame tuille, goji berry 8
We all decided to order something different and share. The black sesame tofu was perhaps my favorite of the night. Silky and smooth, it resembled tofu-fa, the dessert one would order at dim sum, except this was infused with a hearty black sesame flavor. The tofu, just slightly sweet, did not even need the tea syrup to accentuate the black sesame.
Toasted walnut tahitian vanilla parfait - maple soy-mascarpone mousse, caramel apricot sauce 8
The parfait, though dense in structure, was actually quite light in taste. Interspersed with an abundant number of walnuts, the parfait tasted like a really light vanilla mousse. This was balanced out by a buttery bottom crust. I felt the sauce and mascarpone mousse were superfluous, and actually overpowered the nutty parfait.
Original sweet tofu - black sugar sauce, dried apricot
This is one of the signature Kyotofu desserts that came part of the prix-fixe dessert tasting menu. This was in fact the identical to the soft tofu dessert eaten during dim sum. Nothing too special; I would definitely skip this and get the black sesame.
Crystal plum sake anmitsu - black currant mochi, kinako-an cream, azuki red bean sauce 9
The desserts were good so far, until we got to this. The anmitsu, which are translucent cubes of jelly, tasted rather curious, almost like artificially plastic tasting gelatin. Perhaps I didn't get a good spoonful, but I did not taste the black current mochi; the azuki paste was mediocre at best. I did not get a taste of the doriaki (the pancake), but they say it was good.
Mini onigiri rice balls 6
This was another rather lackluster dish from the savory menu. It was simply sushi rice balls rolled up in a seaweed with some pickles and soy sauce. The rice was too soft for my taste and lacked a sufficient amount of vinegar. I am not usually one to complain about prices, but this was definitely something I would not say had good value.
Clockwise: Ginger infused japanese rice okayu, parfait, raspberry chocolate cake, smear of black tofu
This was the 2nd of the 3 course prix-fixe, pretty much covering everything else on the menu we didn't order. The rice pudding was pretty interesting, and tasted like fresh rice since it was pretty soft and fluffy. The ginger was too subtle for my liking, but this was one of the better desserts of the night. The chocolate cake fell into the same trap as the bandwagon raspberry & chocolate pairing. The cake itself was pretty typical as well, and was just another chocolate cake with a melty interior--it just wasn't that interesting.
Lavender tea and cookies
We had ordered tea at the beginning of the meal, but it arrived when our courses had all arrived. The tea itself was good, with a good peppery lavender aroma. The tea cookies were fine but not all too special. It came with two black sesame cookies, which really lacked any depth or sesame flavor, and two sugar cookies, one of which had half a side drizzled in a green tea glaze.
Kyotofu was a fine experience, but the desserts were a notch lacking. The ambiance and actual soy-based desserts (i.e. the black sesame tofu) are probably the only things worth visiting. I haven't yet tried their savory tofu lunch items, but I assume they will be tastier compared with the non-soy savory dishes.
705 Ninth Ave (btw 48th and 49th)
New York, NY 10019
Labels: New York