I think I'm dyslexic. On Monday, Zach posted about a mysterious Kati Roll cart; though he wrote 45th St and 2nd Ave, my brain inverted the street to 54th. This actually happens more often than I'll admit to, and is quite a detriment to my budding billing career. That is between me, you, and the internets. The resulting futile mission I sent myself on did have a silver lining, in that I found out Tafu is celebrating their one-year anniversary with Wabi-Sabi cupcakes!!!
"What is Wabi-Sabi, sunshine?" Why, I believe it is a Japanese world view having to do with nothing is ever perfect or everlasting and finding beauty in such imperfections, and such. More here on Wikipedia. I'm not quite sure what this has to do with mini cupcakes, but I'm not going to knock it.
Tafu offers three base flavors: Matcha (green tea), Genmai (green tea steeped with roasted brown rice), and Houijcha (oven roasted green tea). You can get the plain of these flavors, or get combination cupcakes, for example Tofu-Matcha, or Ume-Genmai, or Sweet Chestnut-Houjicha. Tafu is currently offering 18 different cupcake flavors. Bez meet me to try some out for lunch and we settled on getting a matcha plain, a chocolate-houjicha, a raspberry-genmai, and a banana-genmai.
The matcha had a strong, but not overwhelming green tea flavor and a rich, satisfying umami taste; Bez had never had matcha before and she liked it. The chocolate-houjicha had small chocolate chunks, and yet had a subtly chocolate flavor to the cake. Not sweet or cloying, more towards the bitter, cocoa side. The raspberry-genmai has little seeds in it, but the berry flavor was a little too subtle for my tongue to pick up. I did taste sweetness, but in a "I taste a fruity sweetness" sense, not "Wow, this tastes like some sort of berry" sense. Good, but not my favorite. On the other hand, the banana had a strong banana flavor and would make a delicious banana cake. In both of these last two, I could barely taste the rice aspect, but I did taste it, and I think that brought out the banana taste more than the berry. All of the cupcakes were moist and fresh, and the perfect little snacks to have with tea.
All in all, though this cupcakes are quite pricey, $1.25 for the plains, $1.80 for the flavors, it's a quality vs. quantity debate. It's evident they're made with quality ingredients, and are satisfying as an afternoon treat. If you want a sugary sweet cupcake, these aren't the answer. If you just want a little something that can qualify as dessert, but won't give you an insane sugar high, these might be the ticket. Either way, they're something a little different for this neck of Midtown East.
Tafu New York 569 Lexington Ave, entrance on 51st St. btn. Lex. and 3rd Ave. (212) 980-1310 www.tafuny.com