I’ve passed this place more times than I can imagine but have never actually went in. As a poor college student, I can’t afford nice Korean food. (Unless it’s Woorijip in K-Town). The green awning with its brightly lettered “NY TOFU HOUSE” just screamed, “You can’t afford this so just keep walking and wistfully glance back a few times.”
But finally, I got a chance to visit this place. The front was empty when I walked into the restaurant but the back was where most of the customers were seated. It was cozy with wooden walls and warm lighting. I went in the afternoon around 3pm so there weren’t a lot of people and I received plenty of space and attention without noisy neighbors.
As soon as I sat down, I already felt at home. The dark wood tables were a lovely touch to the whole “cozy tofu house” feel. It didn’t take me long to order. I automatically knew I did not want my usual bulgogi or kalbi anything. Everytime I go to a Korean restaurant, the safest thing for me to order is the bulgogi. Seeing as this is a tofu house, I definitely had to order tofu. For the appetizer, I got the Monkey Balls (yes, because the name caught my attention) and the Seafood Jigae (or Tofu Stew).
While waiting I noticed that they had the most adorable chalkboard displaying their daily specials. I want a chalkboard in my house now.
The Side Dishes: Banchan
The banchan was three dishes instead of the usual five or six I have had at most restaurants. I’ve heard that Yelp reviewers were very dissapointed at this. Honestly, it didn’t bother me that much. I’ve gone to places that give you 5 little dishes and I’d only eat from 3 of them anyway because the others tasted a bit off. Though I really wished they had the potato salad one.
The salad was a pleasant little surprise for me. I expected it to have one of two typical sauces: either the usual orange sauce usually seen in Japanese restaurants or a bland diluted oil and vinegar sauce that tastes nothing short of a dish of leaves and water. Instead, this salad had some sort of peanut sauce that tasted surprsingly good with the salad. Lettuce never tasted so good that wasn’t in Caesar or Italian.
On to the appetizer: THE MONKEY BALLS
I put this in caps because I am born in the year of the monkey in the Zodiac system and am partial to hilarious names involving monkeys and food. In other words, I couldn’t resist. Tiny sized balls were presented before us on a plate. Fried, delicious and the slightly tangy yet spicy orange sauce drizzled on top made it almost perfect. My only problem was that there should have been more since the dish was a tad pricey in my book.
The yummy main dish: SEAFOOD JIGAE
A small little black pot of bubbling tofu and another pot of smoking rice. Such a cute pair. The tofu was mildly spicy (just the right amount spice and temperature for my sensitive taste buds). There were two shrimps (still shelled) and two clams. I did not mind the small amount, though I’d prefer my shrimp without the shell please. Unless that is some Korean tradition I am unaware of. The tofu stew itself had a nice light seafood flavor to it.
In short, I finished everything. Gone to very last drop of stew and bits of rice that I couldn’t scrape out of the bowl. The portions were perfect. I do not like coming out of a restaurant feeling over-stuffed and this left me feeling satisfied and warm. The waiters were friendly when I asked for water, rather than some places where waiters don’t even offer a smile.
A brief run down of NY Tofu House:
I would suggest lunch time personally since I don’t like overcrowded environments, but I do like it when the store has people in there. I hear they do not have their liquor license yet so sorry, no late night Korean food and booze gatherings (just the Korean food).
Also, I found that the stew was very well priced (around 8 bucks) but the Monkey Balls were more than a normal appetizer price.
Savings can be life savers. You can use this student discount to save money while enjoying your Korean food.
You can never have too much delicious Korean food.
Sophia, Rochester Institute of Technology
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