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Reviews: Gobo, Kyotofu

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Reviews: Gobo, Kyotofu

shivohum | Dec 11, 2007 07:07 PM

I'm glad I tried both these restaurants recently.

Gobo is a purely vegetarian (indeed, it might be vegan -- I'm not sure) restaurant located in the West Village. It has a nondescript, dark modern atmosphere. I had mediocre service -- I didn't seem to have one consistent server, and I didn't feel particularly welcomed. But the food was good to excellent. Moreover, it has a huge menu, and I tasted only a fraction of it. I started with a roti canai -- a fried indian bread with a mild indian curry. Both were tasty, though the curry could have used a bit more of a spice kick. I also ordered a black sesame mushroom roll with mango chutney. This "small plate" is diced in a cut-asparagus shape and arranged like black sentinels in dramatic trios. The dish itself was tasty, too, with hearty savor of the mushrooms balancing well against the tartness of the chutney. My only complaint was that the skin of the roll was a bit too tough. My final and main course was a "natural seitan medallion in sizzling spicy citrus sauce." These beautifully cooked seitan medallions had all the delicious chewy texture one could hope for, in an addictively scented and spiced orangey glaze. Delicious. I wanted more, but I got full. I would go back to Gobo without hesitation. It food is delicious, well-presented, vegetarian, healthy, and priced, if not inexpensively, then not unreasonably.

Kyotofu is a small boutique venue whose savory dishes -- based on my choices, anyway -- must be ignored. Their desserts, though, are sublime. I first made the mistake of trying their tofu stuffed with flavored rice and their squash soup. The first was served lukewarm. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it didn't seme to taste very good this way. The tofu skin was ok but not particularly good, and the rice within was bland. The same was doubly true of the squash soup, which had a dully sweet flavor which made me wonder whether I was just too American to get the Japanese palate.

The desserts proved me way off. I got the prix-fixe dessert tasting. The first course was "sweet tofu": beautiful deep brown sugar sauce over a small cup of tofu the consistency of a well-done flan. The second course was a trio of desserts. The first was a sake cheesecake whose slight sourness complemented the sweet smooth tofu cream on top, and, together with the ripple of plum sauce dotted next to it, tasted a lot like peanut butter and jelly (in a good way!). The second was a soy pecan parfait, which, not surprisingly, reminded me of butter pecan, and it had a wonderful wholesome nutty flavor and texture. A drizzle of deep bittersweet caramel on the side accompanied it. Finally, a small miso chocolate cake sat silently next to milk and dark chocolate sauce finishes. It had a velvety-smooth mouthfeel, a lot like warm brownie dough.

The final dessert course was a exquisite pear sorbet that was dense and jeweled and very special. Its two accompaniments were a small lemon jello-like thing which had a nice tartess and a dense green pea chocolate.

The waitress gave me a final petits-four in the form of a small chocolate cupcake. Tiny and moist, it was a delicious end to a fantastic dessert experience.

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