[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Japanese import Ootoya specializes in teishoku, set meals of meat or fish with sides like rice and steamed egg custards, but you need to start your meal somewhere, and the Homemade Tofu Salad with Special Bonito Flakes ($12) is a fine way to do so. Those bonito flakes are indeed special: long and tangled like thinly sliced prosciutto (and just as flavorful), they add a smoky, meaty baseline to the giant glass salad bowl.

The homemade tofu is special stuff, too—so soft it barely holds its shape, beautifully creamy and full of a mild soybean flavor, worth joining our New York fresh tofu short list. When taken with the bonito it becomes the Japanese version of prosciutto with ricotta.

There's greens as well, and a not too sweet wafu dressing with a measured slurp of soy sauce, and they do well to spread the tofu and bonito into a salad that three or four people can share easily. For 12 bucks in Times Square or the Flatiron, that's a deal worth noting.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the New York editor and ice cream maker in residence at Serious Eats. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

related venues
Ootoya 141 W 41st St, New York, NY
Ootoya 8 W 18th St, New York, NY
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