I think I came across Kyotofu as it was rated as having some pretty original desserts that used traditional Japanese flavours, for example, miso or wasabi. It made it on my list of places that I should check out, and as such, I was pretty pleased when I saw that it was quite close to where we were staying in NYC. I was further encouraged by the fact that it always seemed to be full at nights, with groups of people waiting out the front. My first taste of Kyotofu was one afternoon, dropping in spontaneously to pick up something sweet - I took advantage of the fact that it was quiet and so bought a miso brownie to eat as I wandered about. I was a little skeptical but I shouldn't have been - it was absolutely delicious, probably the best brownie that I have eaten in my life!
It was also when I dropped in that I picked up their menu to peruse the dishes that they served at dinner. Intrigued by the dishes listed, and impressed by the miso brownie, I was keen to come back to have dinner. I got that opportunity a few days later when one of K's friends hit town. Turning up without a booking quite early around 6pm, we still had to wait for about half an hour before we took a seat at the bar. The restaurant is quite small as typical for NYC locations and seemed to be a huge hit for the younger fashionable ladies. I soon understood why.
|Chicken and tofu sliders|
|Pigs in a duvet|
Ordering chicken and tofu sliders with sweet potato chips, "pigs in a duvet" (kurobata sausage wrapped in puff pastry with whole grain mustard), mac and cheese and sake braised pork belly to share between the three of us, we were quickly impressed and enthralled with the food that was put in front of us. The chicken and tofu sliders were not only cute to look at, but delicious in their subtlety and lightness. I loved that it felt healthy and was healthy, but still managed to impress the boys. The pigs in a duvet was like a sausage roll, great to eat but nothing outstanding, whilst the remaining two dishes just blew us away. The mac and cheese was made from gruyere and monterey jack cheddar cheese, truffle pate and topped with seven spice panko - it was so good that I wanted to fight the boys for it, cuddle it protectively to my chest and devour it all myself. The sake braised pork belly was described on the menu as "berkshire pork belly, slow cooked in traditional braise of soy sauce, sake, ginger, herbs and spices" and it literally fell apart at the slight touch.
|Mac and Cheese|
|Sake braised pork belly|
|Green tea creme brulee|
|Chocolate souffle cupcake and soy milk soft serve|
Finding Xi'an Famous Foods was a bit of effort, as I was expecting a proper restaurant and when I turned up, it was anything but. Located to the side of a shopping plaza in Chinatown, under the railway overpass, K and I wandered in and out of the shopping mall looking for the restaurant before we finally stopped at a tiny shoebox of a store and looked at one another - yes, this was it.
The restaurant had zero seating available and only a tiny counter where two people can stand and eat. It also possessed zero ambiance and atmosphere. After taking a few minutes to check out the picture menu in the front window, we went in to order our dishes. With the most expensive priced at $7, we could afford to be lavish and so went out and ordered a few different things: stewed pork burger, cumin lamb burger, stewed oxtail hand ripped noodles, concubine's chicken hand ripped noodles and tiger vegetable salad. As we waited, we watched the two ladies behind the counter make the dishes - taking out pre-made noodle dough and stretching it and tearing it into noodles. Soon enough, our dishes were in front of us, and as I write this my mouth literally waters at the memory...
|Stewed oxtail hand ripped noodles|
|Stewed pork burger|
|Cumin lamb burger|
We were so impressed with Xi'an, and not least by the fact that it was all so unbelievably cheap (for example, the burgers were $2.50 and HUGE) that we came back another time before we left New York. Thinking about it, writing it, looking at the picture makes me wish that we had something of that quality and price in Sydney...
Missing NYC more than ever.