BCD Tofu House

5W 32nd St. New York, NY 10001 • (212) 967-1900 bcdtofu.com

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I have no idea what the BCD stands for, maybe it’s Bargain Cuisine Delectables? Probably not, but whatever it is, ya still gotta love Koreatown for its bountiful spreads of food at a fraction of the price you’d pay anywhere else in Manhattan. It’s almost as if they don’t realize that there are sandwich shops all around them that are charging more for a tuna on rye- no chips, no drink- than the three course bento-paloozas the Koreans are doling out. So shhhh! Let’s keep it that way.

But cheap is only one reason to love the Tofu House. Good is the other. Especially in the winter with a bevy of fiery soups that manage to stay hot longer than Madonna. Offered in a range of spiciness from mild to medium to hot and finally very hot. I went with just “hot” and I found it to be perfect. Plenty of kick, but just up to that threshold where flavor ends and pain begins, without crossing it. Very hot would’ve probably rendered all of the goodies in the soup imperceptible to taste.

As for the goodies of which I speak, I opted for the dumpling soup, which as one might guess is loaded with dumplings. But also bulgogi, veggies, tofu (after all, the place is called Tofu House), and if you so desire, a raw egg, rice, peppers and kimchi. Plus a fried smelt on the side.

And speaking of dumplings, another worthy get as an appetizer are the fried veggie pot stickers.

Service is very friendly and attentive and the décor is rather basic. Not the point of this place though really. The soup here is the focus. So if you’re cold and looking for a bowl to warm you up, this should do the trick, even if you’re a White Walker.

4 teeth

Laut

15 E 17th St. New York, NY 10003 (212) 206-8989 • lautnyc.com

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When you enter Laut, you can’t help but like it, with its exposed brick, colorful murals and Prozac jolly waiters. And at lunch, the value gives you even more to like with soup or salad, shumai or spring rolls. On top of your main. Not literally. Actually laid out quite nicely in a bento box next to each other.

But as euphoric as the waiter was, unfortunately I didn’t have what he was having (to quote “When Harry Met Sally”). The Malaysian noodles were too greasy and not even close to spicy, as described by server and menu alike.

On the uptick, the soup and shumai were both very good, but the salad was just okay and the Singha was a bit flat, so back we slid into the two-knife mire. And while I’d almost consider 2.5/3, it’s hard to do when you have Republic and Rohm right around the corner, both of which are better.

2 teeth

Ootoya

8 W 18th St. New York, NY 10011(212) 255-0018ootoya.us

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Apart from the slow service and the fact that they don’t take reservations, I loved the place. Clean, elegant decor. Great presentation. And very good food.

Of the dishes I tried, my favorite was the Katsu don. Fried pork over a bed of rice with veggies and a fried egg. Great on a cold day. And they serve it with tons of other goodies from soup to custard to seaweed salad, etc…

The other dish was a simple fish prepared perfectly- moist and light.

Look forward to going back. Very different from my usual haunts. Thanks Sol, for the reco.

4 teeth