I actually passed by Tung Woo several times on my way home when I lived on the Lower East Side, but never stopped by because I didn’t know what they had in there. Tung Woo isn’t you’re typical shop. Everything is sold street-side so you can’t go in and browse. In the front, there’s a counter of sorts on the right, and two huge metal pots full of warm soy custard on the left. To place your order, you queue up on the right side. This is very important. Loiter or ask questions on the left side and you’ll get an earful from the Chinese man at the counter. I speak from experience. But even if you do get yelled at, don’t fret, he’s an equal-opportunity yeller. When I was about to order, a Chinese woman appeared out of nowhere on the left and tried to place her order before me. As can be expected, she was thoroughly reamed out. He may be brusque, but he’s fair in his own way.
A small order ($1.25) will get you a pint of fresh soy custard with sweet syrup on the side. Pour the syrup over the custard and gently dig in. Each silky, smooth spoonful of impossibly soft tofu will disintegrate in your mouth at the slightest pressure. Chewing isn’t necessary. The syrup isn’t overly sweet, but it’ll seep down to the bottom of the plastic container leaving the last few bites sweeter than the first. Not a big deal, the last mouthfuls are just as delectable.
Also great at Tung Woo is the soya drink, otherwise known as the soy milk. With a touch of sweetness, the thin soy milk is tasty and refreshing. The best part? It’s only 75 cents a bottle. According to my friend Gordon, who by the way tipped me off on the soy milk, it used to be 50 cents, but even for a quarter more, it’s still hella’ cheap.
The soy custard sells out fast, so go early. Even in Chinatown, Tung Woo is a deal.
Tung Woo Co.
230 Grand Street (b/n Elizabeth & Bowery; map)
New York, NY 10013