Chinatown, Little Italy, Small Shops

Tung Woo is Soyriffic – NYC

April 26, 2011 | 11 Comments

soy custard @ tung woo

Soy custard (douhua) is one of my favorite dim sum desserts, so when I read about the soy custard at Tung Woo on Eating in Translation, I knew a visit was in the near future.

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.

@ tung wooAlso 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

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11 Comments

  • Someguy at 10:22 pm on April 26, 2011

    Weird coincidence. I went there during my lunch hour. Got two big containers of the custard, Do Fu Fa. So awesome!

  • Nicholas at 11:39 am on April 27, 2011

    Is it traditional flavored ginger syrup? Or just regular sugar? If you have the choice, go ginger.

    (I say this as someone who actually hates ginger)

  • Danny at 1:31 pm on April 27, 2011

    haha I always passed by this place too and was just too clueless to know what to order. Ladies line up for this place, so I figured it was good. Didn’t look like they’d speak English so i never went!

  • bionicgrrrl at 3:57 pm on April 27, 2011

    @Someguy – Agree, so awesome!

    @Nicholas – No ginger, but I don’t mind. I like the simplicity of their soy custard. But more importantly, how could you hate ginger?! Ginger is great!

    @Danny – The people at the counter surprisingly speak better English than I expected. I mean, they know enough to give you what you want and tell you the price. Definitely try it next time!

  • Nicholas at 6:31 pm on April 27, 2011

    do you know how many times in my childhood I’ve bitten into a giant piece of ginger thinking it was chicken? It’s just… unpleasant memories haha.

  • kim at 9:32 am on April 28, 2011

    I also prefer this place over the one across the street too. Much cheaper and the ladies are nicer. Also, get the freshly made noodles that are delivered daily. The line could get crazy line during peak hours, so I like to hit up this spot before noon.

  • Meister @ The Nervous Cook at 1:09 pm on April 28, 2011

    Sweet! You just answered a seriously burning question for me: “Where can I get quality soy milk in Chinatown?” I just *knew* there had to be someplace I was missing.

  • bionicgrrrl at 4:01 pm on April 28, 2011

    @Nicholas – You know when that used to happen to me as a kid I hated it, but now I kinda like it. Weird how tastes change.

    @kim – Haven’t tried the noodles yet since I usually get my noodles east of Bowery. Will try it next time.

    @Meister – It’s good if you don’t mind it being on the thin side. Let me know what you think.

  • Sinru at 12:31 pm on May 8, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this, I went there and bought the silky tofu and they taste so delicious!

  • bionicgrrrl at 11:37 am on May 9, 2011

    @Sinru – Glad you liked it!

  • The City Sweet Tooth » Sweet Links of the Week – 5/13! at 9:44 am on May 13, 2011

    […] Lunch) More Hester St. Fair! (Serious Eats) Eataly’s Hot Chocolate! (Blondie & Brownie) Soy Custard at Tung Woo! (Bionic Bites) Karloff’s Pretzel Cones! (Fork in the Road) Gelato Sandwiches at Bklyn Larder! (Grub St.) […]

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