I was recently contacted by Jonathan Carfield who runs a food management consulting practice, and is also one of the creators of ‘Korea Bites,’ which recently launched a new website providing services such as translated food menus, online ordering and delivery. Anyway, as a marketing and sales consultant, he offered me an invitation to a complimentary tasting at Kyotofu, a Japanese-style dessert bar & restaurant! I had only recently heard about Kyotofu myself, so I wasn’t aware of the original NYC branch’s grand reputation, but they have apparently earned all sorts of gourmet foodie awards, and also sell some of their baked goods at Dean & Deluca! And now there’s a location in Itaewon, Seoul, of all places. :)
As you all know, I’m really not much of a gourmet foodie, so I’m not sure whether I make a very good restaurant critic, but I do love eating and trying new restaurants and cafes… so when I was offered this complimentary lunch in return for a mention on this blog, I figured ‘why not!’.
Since this was lunchtime, most customers sat near the front of the restaurant, which is very minimalist, more sober in design, and has plenty of daylight. That’s Richard (fellow critic-in-crime, omnivore), trying to look nonchalant.
And now onto the food! Most of Kyotofu’s dishes include soy beans or tofu as an ingredient, but here, the humble bean curd is elevated to a whole other level with innovation, style, quality ingredients, and refined techniques. Yes, high-end tofu. Although tofu is their specialty, my vegetarian readers should be aware that it is not a veg*an-focused restaurant. Infact, quite far from it, as the vast majority of their menu includes meat and dairy products. After looking through the menu and talking to the server, we ordered two salads.
I got to try one of the tofu tempura cubes, which had a nice, crispy fried coating and a nice chewy texture on the inside. We both thought the fried coating oozed a bit too much oil, but it was all balanced nicely with the sweet beet dressing. Mm, crispy, chewy, juicy…. the mushrooms were also very tasty.
I got their house-made Kyo-Tofu Salad (10,000won), which included two perfect mounds of silken tofu, roasted beet cubes, pickled onions, a cherry tomato, all on a bed a mix of fresh greens, dressed in sweet yuzu-miso dressing.
This was the perfect springtime salad. Light, fresh, sweet, and absolutely delightful. It’s rare to find beets served in restaurants here, so these were a special addition, and I loved how the juices of the beets turned the tofu pink. Since the tofu was quite silky, I ended up using a spoon to gather all the ingredients together, rather than a fork like you would with most salads. It was a bit awkward, but it worked. :)
Since we only ordered salads, it wasn’t exactly a filling meal, but everything was really delicious, healthful, light, and made with the freshest of ingredients. Even the mellow lemon and rosemary-infused water was delicious!
Their ‘Vegan Brownie’ was definitely on the thinner, crispier side, rather than the typical thick, dense, fudgy side. Infact, I would hesitate to call this a brownie at all… it’s more like a chocolate cookie. Regardless of what it’s called though, it was provided a nice chocolate element to our dessert platter, and any vegan chocolate goody is fine by me.
Makgeolli sorbet! Sounds weird, but this was really good! This one was definitely icier in texture compared to the other two, but it was no-doubt refreshing, and I actually enjoyed it more than the raspberry one… Makgeolli (Korean rice wine) is definitely trendy right now- just another of Korea’s arsenals for worldwide food domination.
Here are some of their other soy-based, with unique flavor combinations such as ‘Miso Caramel Tart’ and ‘Matcha Cream Cheese Tart.’ I hope they will soon come out with more vegan dessert options because these look amazing.
Anyway, we had a wonderful meal at Kyotofu. The food was high-quality, fresh, sophisticated, and delightful. I do wish their menu were more vegan-friendly, but I’ll give them props for presenting the less crunchy-granola side of my beloved tofu. Also, I want to thank the peeps at Korea Bites & Kyotofu for the experience. This blog has never gotten me a free meal before! haha. I’ve suddenly come to realize that this little blog of mine might actually have a bit of clout and influence, thanks to you, my loyal readers. As they say, with increased readership, comes increased responsibility (oooh, that was deep), and so I want y’all to know that I don’t take such privileges lightly! I am incredibly grateful and hope that I can continue to be a helpful resource to all my fellow vegheads bobbing in Seoul’s sea of omnivores.
Directions to Kyotofu:
Hangangjin Station, Line 6, Exit 3. Walk straight about 2 minutes. Kyotofu will be on your left, after Passion5.
Itaewon Station, Line 6, Exit 3. Walk straight about 7 minutes. Kyotofu will be on your right.