Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kyotofu: Japanese Dessert Bar & Bakery (NYC)

Whispers of one of New York’s “it” dessert joints often spoke of Kyotofu… it is often a popular suggestion amongst my twenty-something Asian friends.  Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but Kyotofu’s cutesy pink and bubbly logo was a partial indication as to why.  There’s a distinctly effeminate feel to the dessert bar upon entering.  All that was missing was a trail of cherry blossom petals and photos of fluffy white bunnies in meadow fields.

Kyotofu is a Japanese dessert bar and bakery in Hell’s Kitchen.  Using tofu as the chef’s base ingredient for everything on the menu, Chef Ritsuko Yamaguchi creates a dessert haven for vegans.    

The presentation was lovely.  Cute, petite, colorful and simple, not unlike the place.  Unable to decide on a dessert, my friend and I ordered the prix fixe kaiseki ($17), the chef’s three course dessert tasting.

It begins with their signature sweet tofu which is basically a tiny sized version of tofu fa I can get for peanuts on the streets of Hong Kong or China town New York.  Chef Yamaguchi does make it a very delectable piece though.  The tofu is silky smooth and the black sugar syrup topped with a  dried apricot is a nice alternative to the traditional sugary ginger syrup.

The rest of the tasting menu was not so impressive.

From left to right:
raspberry lychee anmitsu
matcha green tea tofu cheesecake
warm mochi chocolate cake 

The raspberry lychee anmitsu was my favorite of the three, purely only because of the gelatin.  The housemade mochi was too sticky.  The ice-cream looking bit on each dessert is not in fact ice-cream.  It is a variation of shiro-an (white bean paste), in this case made with flavors such as black sesame or green tea.  Perhaps there wasn't enough sugar for my taste, but it tasted dry and bland.  The green tea cheesecake tasted similarly: dry and bland.  It had the texture of room temperature margarine without the greasy aftertaste.  How creamy stuff manages to taste dry is beyond me. 

The aftermath of our dessert tasting.  The cheesecake was virtually untouched.  The rest was forcibly devoured.

Thankfully, the pumpkin ice-cream to follow was fantastic.  Cold, soft, creamy and heavy on the pumpkin flavor.

 The warm mochi chocolate cake ($10) ordered separately by my friend was also a let down.  In the presentation was kuromitsu creme anglaise, green tea shiro-an and candied violets.  I'll note that my friend personally enjoyed the soft chocolate cake.  It was again too bland and dry for my tastes.

Kyotofu also makes suggested wine and sake pairings with each dish on the menu.  Customers can also find a dinner menu consisting of delicate Japanese fusion cuisine.

Make what you will of Kyotofu, but I find it certainly one of the most overrated dessert bars in New York.

705 Ninth Avenue (btwn 48th & 49th St)
New York, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 974-6012

 [also posted in the Overseas Section of]


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