It happens that way sometimes. Your friends suggest that you go a restaurant because it is amazing and will change your life forever, and instead you fly back to Los Angeles. Just, make sure when you finally make it back to Seattle, they drive you, otherwise you’ll never find it. Unless you can read Chinese.
Just for informational purposes, NW Tofu Inc. is open Moday-Sataday7:am-5:30pm. With Wensday off.
It depends on what kind of risk-taker you are, but if I have one piece of advice to offer, it’s to disregard what the menu says and just order stuff. If my friends Sean and Junko hadn’t made it clear that the “salty soy milk” was where the party is at, I can assure you I not only wouldn’t have ordered it, but I would also have erased the words from my memory in order to preserve my sanity. But more on that in a minute.
The vital part of the story is here: salt and pepper tofu. Somehow, NW Tofu has managed to coat their silky, pudding-smooth made-fresh-daily tofu with a paper-thin crust, not unlike a perfectly ethereal potato chip that just happens to have tofu inside. It doesn’t look or taste like any other fried tofu I’ve ever had, but nevertheless steals the show out from under the rest. It’s like you’re sitting there, watching the ice-skating on the Olympics and thinking, “You know, I’m not ashamed to say I like this,” and then all of a sudden someone comes out on the ice on stilts with fire shooting out of the top of their head and you jump up and shout “I FUCKING LOVE THIS SPORT.”
Below here we get back to the salty soy milk. It’s a little like saying that a big pot of Irish beef stew is “cow juice”. The “salty soy milk” is a pot of a kind of soft tofu porridge, seasoned with green onions, pork, pickled Chinese vegetables and topped with pieces of what is commonly referred to as “Chinese donut,” but isn’t sweet. The fried, chewy bread soaks up the hot milk and transforms into a rather astounding dumpling-like blob, both tender and rich.
In an attempt at risk-taking, we also ordered what was listed on the menu as I believe “tofu sheet hot pot,” and even though we asked our charming server what was in it, we were still startled to find it had not just tofu sheet (which turned out to be similar to Japanese yuba, or tofu skin, but was fresh and creamy-white instead of yellowish and chewy), but every single kind of specialty tofu that NW tofu makes: fried, tofu studded with fresh and pickled vegetable and the incomparable “spice tofu,” a chewy, dryer tofu strongly impregnated with five spice seasoning.
As we were leaving, our server suggested we go back and see the tofu being made.
It took me a while to understand that those buckets held the whole last batch of fresh tofu, and if you ordered a pound of it to go ($.80) (that’s EIGHTY CENTS if you didn’t catch that), they just walked over to the bucket, dug out a cube and tossed it into a plastic sack for you. I imagine it makes its way into the cooler eventually, but at 10:30 in the morning it was fresh from the bucket and still warm from being made.
This tofu below was a different kind, pressed thin and textured. I don’t know what it was used for.
They line the wooden boxes with cloth:
Drain the steaming hot soymilk from the cooking tank:
And then ladle it into the boxes where the liquid starts to drain out:
The cloth gets carefully folded over the top and the whole round starts again:
I’m leaving out some parts, but that’s pretty much how it rolls. Hot, fresh tofu made daily. I was disappointed that I couldn’t take home one of their half-gallons of fresh soy milk since I wasn’t going straight home and then had a long drive ahead of me. Of course, I was clutching my soy bean bloated belly while I lamented this loss of yet more soy bean product, but still. This is Anger Burger. It wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t at some point think I was going to die of a burst stomach.February 25th, 2010 | Eatin' Fancy