Three Favorite Tofu Dishes
I’m not covering the ouevre here but just tossing out that which should not be missed. If you like tofu. And maybe even if you generally don’t.
Buried deep within the caverns of the Kitano Hotel in Murray Hill is a lovely Kaiseki restaurant – Japanese food as art. Down, down a flight of stairs to a chic, spare tho too brightly lighted dining room complete with kimono clad servers. They offer many wonderful dishes but for now – let’s have that sesame laced tofu. The kind of creamy dreamy ethereal texture that you don’t easily forget. It’s a more traditional version but exquisitely made and offered in a small beautiful bowl. It used to be a soft square of charcoal and ivory, now it’s all one color. Never knew how they did that. It’s often paired with an interesting vegetable of the season as a garnish and I still remember my brilliant first bite six years ago.
Slightly east and a tidge south we go up a spiral stairway this time, to a slice of Kyoto at the top. There are only about 20 seats to be had and much good sake for the many delicacies on the menu. And yes, among them is a sesame tofu. A perfectly round package of tofu gathered in a nub, a kind of dumpling with a nipple topped with uni, wasabi and set in a nice dashi. This is more akin to biting into sesame with the texture of tofu, a buttery, luscious cozy tofu that becomes the vehicle for real sesame, no delicate infusion here. It’s a lovely smooth delight.
Well one cannot ignore the temple of homemade tofu in this mini round-up. Not tofu that is handmade every one and a half hours and can be had warm or cold. Both ways are silken, velvety, and lush but the lacquer box behind door number one wins my vote – warm. A soft white milky box of love, heavenly love. A barely detectable shape in the thick liquid, but oh it’s there. Add a little soy dashi, dip your shallow wooden spoon in a cloud and with one small moan of happiness, you’ve been called home. They have a simple but special process in the tofu making here and luckily for us it allows the true flavor to shine through. I thank them for their scientific prowess but I just want to revel in the outcome.
66 Park Avenue
157 East 28th Street
435 Hudson Street