Kajitsu In Murray Hill Gives Tofu A Makeover

Kajitsu has new digs in Murray Hill (and lunch!)

Tofu wouldn't have an image problem if the world's entire soybean supply wound up at Kajitsu.

From its new location in Murray Hill, the vegan Japanese Buddhist restaurant is doing for bean curd what years of tofu lovers' well-meaning proselytizing never could.

Kajitsu's airy new home is a turn from the restaurant's former residence in a dim East Village basement: The environs are a second-floor sanctuary, ideal for the pristine shojin ryori ("devotion cuisine") cooking.

Also new: lunch service, with an à la carte menu that is kinder to both wallet and schedule than dinner's prix fixe priced at $55 for four courses and $85 for eight.

At lunch you can retrieve every grain of rice in a yuba donburi for only $18. Accompanied by smoky tea and a pert bowl of miso soup, the bowl is bedded with a comforter of tofu-skin ribbons.

Ichiju Sansai ($40) is a tabletop picnic, with a small kaleidoscope of dishes, each artful in its own pottery dish. On a recent visit, soft tofu was gently embedded with cherry blossoms, seaweed noodles were tangled with grilled shiitakes, and a white-miso hot pot surprised with natural sweetness.

And downstairs, the Kyoto-based Ippodo Tea Co. has set up shop, meaning you can take a little of that zen pixie dust with you onto the street in the form of a to-go cup of matcha ($4).