kyotofu opened recently amidst much fanfare. Many people have been eyeing it and posting about it on their various blogs for a while now, waiting patiently for what we thought was a bakery to open- a bakery that supposedly had been open in Kyoto, Japan, for a while. There were a lot of rumors, a lot of back and forth gossip, because some people spoke with other people in Kyoto who’d never heard of the place, and there were suggestions that it wasn’t actually in Japan yet, but the idea had been spread because that’s what kyotofu’s headquarters wanted you to believe.
Regardless, we eagerly ventured to this midtown “dessert bar” (currently open only at night, though the restaurant assures us that it will soon be open during the daytime, possibly starting in December) after our cheap Russian dinner. With six of us in tow, we managed to try just about everything on the dessert menu.
BB went with the “ginger infused japanese rice oyaku: sour cherry, kuromitsu whipped cream, ginger candy $9” (from the menu that they had by the cash register for people to take with them). She enjoyed it, but noted that it was just like regular rice pudding with a bit of sour cherry strewn throughout. Personally, I’ve never actually had rice pudding, mostly because it looks disgusting to me (ooh, the ignorance is suddenly front & center!), so it kind of just tasted like glop to me.
StB opted for the “sansho-pepper tofu cheesecake: shiro-an vanilla cream, shochu ginger, fruit carpaccio $9.” Her full review is available here. My bite of cheesecake didn’t reveal any of the complexities of which she speaks, but this is possibly because… well, keep reading.
HB ordered the “black sesame sweet tofu: hoji-cha tea syrup, white sesame tuille, goji berry $7.” I could point out the fact that “cha” in many Asian languages means tea, so the menu is a bit redundant… but I won’t. Instead, we’ll focus on the dish itself. I know HB liked her dish, but I really liked this. I’ve mentioned before my affinity towards pannacotta (and tiramisu- basically, creamy Italian desserts), and black sesame, so this was very much something I liked. It was basically, to me, black sesame pannacotta.
SpB said her “warm chestnut mochi chocolate cake: green tea-anko cream, fig yokan $10” was good, the center soft and almost like a molten lava cake. I heard no complaints from her end, and thought my bite was good, subtly sweet instead of the overpowering sweetness of many Western desserts.
ShB‘s “toasted walnut tahitian vanilla parfait: maple soy-mascarpone mousse, caramel apricot sauce $8” was interesting to read, but fairly blah and unmemorable. Though worth noting: I would swear to you that was mascarpone, not soy-mascarpone- it was dense, creamy, very mascarpone-like.
Last and perhaps least was myself, with the “kyotofu original okara cookie box: green tea chocolate dipped, black sesame white chocolate, kinako $5.” When this arrived in a ceramic mug of sorts, I thought, ooh, how cute. I opened it up and found 7 cookies- two green tea dipped, two white chocolate dipped, and 3 kinako/plain ones. The cookies were surprisingly super soft and practically fell apart- if I held one up by the edge, it would fold in on itself. The flavor itself wasn’t that distinct; it was fairly subtle, something that for some reason, either that day or in general, I was just not picking up on things easily with food.
Then disaster hit. I think I turned green because every single person at my table just looked at me in concern as pain shot through my stomach and I ran for the bathroom. Unfortunately, kyotofu only has one bathroom, outside which grew line while I purged my guts out. After a few agonizing minutes, I felt marginally better, well enough to expect that I could make it home all the way downtown without incident, anyway, so I exited the bathroom (which, by the way, was very nice, well kept, and had Williams-Sonoma soap and lotion to use, which was a nice touch- particularly since one was green tea and wasabi scented!). It was a bit embarrassing as the entire place was small enough that everyone knew it was me who’d hogged the bathroom, but at that point, I was just glad to be rid of whatever it was ailing me. I won’t, I can’t hold it against kyotofu because we’d just eaten at Uncle Vanya’s and I am still not sure if it was the cookies or the borscht or some combination (what could be in cookies that I’d have such a violent reaction to, anyway?) of the two, and all of my companions enjoyed their desserts but no one got sick, or at least not as sick as I did anyway.
Along with our check came these small gelatnious cubes. Raspberry, I believe. They were cute, but unncessary, and the flavor again was too subtle for me to pick up on.
Yvo says: Overall, everyone enjoyed their dishes, some more than others, and some would want to go back and get something another person had instead. Their menu is currently very limited, although I’ve noted that the menu says “November 2006 Menu” implying that it will change in December, possibly monthly. They do offer a small savory section, and alcohol/cocktails as well, though we didn’t opt for any of those. Personally, I wouldn’t go back, mostly because I’m not into this dessert bar trend (if I’m going to get dessert, I prefer to stay wherever I’ve just had dinner), but the place had a nice, relaxed feel to it, and if I were to meet someone just for dessert, I could see suggesting this place. It is a very tiny place however, and I think they may need to work on some of their flavorings a bit, but other than that, the wait staff was attentive and well-versed in the menu, the place was cute and trendy, the prices were about average for dessert bars, and we had a good time laughing it up (we were the loudest table in there- 6 girls at one table vs. a few couples at their own tables and maybe a pair of girls here and there).