The last time I picked up lunch at Chef Yu, I predicted that, despite the mediocre food, I’d be back again.
Today was that day: Driven by the need for a reasonably-priced lunch menu, with a spicy tofu dish, within ultra-close proximity of my office, that takes cards for orders less than $10 — well, Chef Yu was the only place I knew of within a few-blocks radius that met the bare-minimum requirements, the most important being the spicy tofu dish.
Why the insistence on a spicy tofu dish when changing up the food would open up a whole new world (comparatively speaking) of options? Well I’ve had an eye on Szechuan Gourmet’s “Ma Paul Tofu” after reading about it on Midtown Lunch a few weeks ago, a craving that’s only intensified after the discovery of this photo of the gorgeous, dark-red braised tofu dish in EatinginTranslation’s photo stream, and that has only further intensified today with this feeling of a cold coming on. (Whenever I start to feel under the weather I crave spicy Asian comfort foods like kimchi stew or Thai curries, and hot fresh ginger drinks.)
Which is how I wound up at Chef Yu — again. No Szechuan Gourmet, I’m sure, but the “tofu Szechuan style” was an improvement from the cloyingly-sweet lemon chicken I had last time. The silken tofu floated buoyantly in the dark red sauce, very savory, a little smokey-flavored with a touch of heat (not enough for my taste), and stirring in the brown rice gave the dish an enjoyable stew-like consistency.
The verdict: Last time I predicted some set of circumstances will drive me back to Chef Yu. This time, I’m going to do my absolute best to stay away, with so many better lunching options just a few more minutes’ walk away, but I’m not saying there’s not a chance … [inverse Dumb and Dumber quote, sic.]