Kyotofu ~ Orderinny

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


When Kyotofu, an ultra-slick Japanese influenced dessert-only bar opened last fall, I was more than a little skeptical whether it would succeed. As gentrified as Hell's Kitchen is turning, it is not trendy like the village or anywhere else below 14th St. I visited it in its early months, liking the concept but a little turned off by the steep pricing that priced a slice of tofu cheesecake at more than 10 dollars.
Lately though, I've been frequently Kyotofu a lot more. Pricing during the evening hours have been adjusted just slightly below the $10 psychological barrier and Kyotofu also started opening during afternoons. And weekend afternoons is when I find it most convenient to saunter into the bar, a scant 3 blocks away for something sweet. Most of the time, I go for the miso-choco brownie, a , round nugget of intense chocolate flavor accentuated with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Miso is an ingredient although I've never really experienced the savory taste in all the half dozen cakes I've consumed so far. In the afternoons, the restaurant also serve a chocolate souffle cupcake that is moister than Magnolia's will ever be alongside some fruit compote. With some luck, the bright white cocoon-like room will be empty, and your afternoon will be serene and sweet.
The energy level in the dining room increases significantly as day turns to night. At best, there is a quiet buzz as couples and groups of girlfriends share their desserts and drinks. At its worst, the tiny room with its amplifying acoustics can sound like a zoo. However, look past it all and you'll enjoy the intricate and expensive desserts. The 3 course dessert prefixe is a misnomer as the entree usually consists of 3 mini desserts, which makes it a 5 course prefixe. At $15, portions are pretty tiny, but still big enough for 2 not very hungry girls to finish with some difficulty. The tofu pudding with black sugar sauce is wonderfully smooth and extremely pure and nutty tasting. The miso-choco cake appears in the prefix, together with a miniature slice of tofu cheesecake, often flavored with aromatic sansho pepper but on one occasion laced with sake. Unlike regular cheesecake, the tofu version is less dense, making it easier to finish without feeling sick. A cool and creamy vanilla cream and walnut parfait that rounds up the trio in the entree is equally tasty. The 3 course meal ends with some green tea cookies whose soft and crumbly texture I unfortunately do not appreciate. For people who enjoy beautifully plated Japanese desserts, a few ala carte items lean towards the more traditional bent, like a very subtle red bean jelly served with unfortunately undercooked tapioca pearls in calpico milk, as well as anmitsu, a traditional Japanese jelly based dessert served with strawberries and dorayaki, a baked Japanese pancake.
Having eaten through more than half of the sweets menu, while I can't say that I love everything, there isnt a dish that I vehemently oppose to as well. Regrettably, my favorite dish, a rich rice pudding sitting in a puddle of the best, most concentrated soy milk I've tasted is currently off the menu.
Kyotofu is a place for dessert lovers, more specifically dainty eaters. But even for people who like hefty slices of pies and cream topped cakes, come try it and you may find that tofu cheesecake is right up your alley too.
705 9th Ave (48th & 49th St)

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