Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Won't Believe It's Tofu at Soy Restaurant!

If you're in the Lower East Side and searching for some fresh, healthy food that's good for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, swing by 102 Suffolk Street (between Delancey and Rivington) and pop into Japanese home-cooking restaurant, Soy. Don't walk too fast, or you just might miss this small, charming restaurant.

Interior of Soy
Able to comfortably seat about ten people, with a handful more at the counter, Soy features dishes made with, you guessed it, soybean, as well as tofu (which actually comes from soybean curds...). However, the menu doesn't stop there. Traditional Japanese homemade plates such as "Niku Jaga," a beef and potato dish (made with real beef...), and "Daizu Gohan," a soybean rice dish, are juxtaposed with comfort foods like croquettes, and inventive items such as edamame cheese rolls and, what is arguably the restaurant's most popular dish among LES residents and visitors, a spicy tuna and avocado bowl that is raved about on food-review sites such as yelp and menupages. Soy is consistently highly rated for both dine-in and neighborhood delivery.

My mouth salivating for the spicy tuna and avocado bowl before I even sat down, I knew I had to try it. Our waiter even expected as much, and guessed I would order the bowl before I could place my order. Thus, despite the title of this post, I actually didn't order any tofu... Glancing over at the specials board while waiting for our food, I wondered whether I should have taken a chance on something new and different, one of the soybean specialities perhaps, or one of the daily changing entrees, which on the day I dined at Soy included Miso Snapper and Garlic Chicken, but I had already placed my order. Nevertheless, my meal indeed left me smiling.

Spicy Tuna and Avocado Bowl at Soy
Served in a warm bowl and beginning with a bed of fluffy white sushi rice (although the restaurant does not actually serve any sushi, owing to the fact that sushi as Americans know it is not a dish many Japanese people cook at home...), followed by a bountiful serving of spicy tuna nestled on top of pieces of creamy avocado, I knew this dish would delight. If you try it, make sure to mix the items in the bowl together to really enjoy the tasty texture of the avocado and spicy tuna melting together in your mouth.

If you like the laid-back, green, tranquil atmosphere of cafes in New Paltz or [insert name of any hippie-college-town here], you'll love the vibe at Soy. The decor is quaintly adorable, if not a bit eccentric, and overall the restaurant/cafe has a very homey feel.

At the end of our meal, I still could not take my eyes off the specials board, and the interesting-sounding desserts like green tea cheesecake or the "I can't believe it's not tofu" pudding, but my dining companion and I had tickets for a show and couldn't stay. If you get to try some of these desserts, please leave a comment.

Daily Specials Board at Soy
Soy apparently goes even beyond just serving food, into the realm of pedagogy, offering Japanese cooking classes with themes such as "Soy Cooking for Clueless," "Everyone Loves Japanese Curry," and "Sushi Master." The three-hour evening classes are only $65 each, and they're limited to six students  to provide a very intimate experience (and, also because the kitchen is really small).

Soy is typically open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 12pm-10pm, Saturdays from 5pm-10pm, and closed Wednesdays and Sundays. Delivery ends 30 minutes before closing time. Check Soy's website for updates, as the restaurant also tends to close on popular holidays like Christmas and New Year's.


  1. Garlic chicken for me. Love mom

  2. That looks like such a cute place to dine! These wonderful hidden gems that you really need to stop and look for are the greatest part about New York City.

  3. I agree, Austin, so many hidden gems to find in this city. Thanks for reading!

  4. Certainly one of the best little spots in NYC for real-deal Japanese homestyle cooking. Very reasonable prices too.