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Jul 27, 2001 04:03 AM

Stinky Tofu

  • m

Ok, with all the recent mentioning of chinese food, i have always wondered about this one. When i was in Hong Kong, i had some of the best stinky tofu offered from the street vendors. And when i heard that stinky tofu was offered by this place on Jackson street, i gave it a try. If you haven't tried this appetizer (more like a snack) before, this place on Jackson street is not bad. This place is truly for the people who doesn't mind food at a less than gracious place. But i still have yet to find a place that serve good stinky tofu. Maybe some of you chowhounders can help me out.

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  1. Which place on Jackson St. (SF)? Are you looking for fried or steamed? I don't have any leads, but thought I'd ask the questions to get the ball rolling.

    [If you don't know what stinky tofu is, check the thread linked below. There's also a link to a recent article in the SF Weekly.]


    9 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I am actually talking about the deep fried kind. Also this place i am talking about is very hard to find. It is on the other side of the street and a little further down from the Great Stars Theater on Jackson st in sf chinawtown. It is right before the empty lot on the corner. It basically is a restaurant comprised of a red counter and a couple of stools. Not the cleanest place on the world but i expected to taste some classic chinese food there. Although i haven't been to the place mentioned by SF weekly, but i think i might give it a try. Thanks for the thread and when i do try it maybe i can give an opinion or two about the food.

      1. re: Mike Lee

        I know exactly which lunch counter you're talking about! And, this all makes sense because sometimes when I walk by there it smells like an open sewer and I've wondered how the patrons can stand it.

        Mike, I'm so delighted to have you posting on this board. This is the only place on the web that I can get into this much depth about chinese cuisine and local eateries in English.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Wow, thanks, the very first compliment i got from this board! But i am glad you know which lunch counter i am talking about. I am usually not very good with restaurant names if they are in chinese. I tend to overlook the english name and would only remember the place as the chinese name. But theres also another really nice place with special dishes that i mentioned in your threat of Zha jiang mien. The Shanghai beach restaurant at ranch 99 in daly city offers a really good beggars chicken (not authentic but really good) oh and this chicken needs to be pre ordered 24 hours in advance for the kitchen to prepare.

          As for the lunch counter, are you going to give the stinky tofu a try? The tofu there is actually not bad. And who knows you might start to like it as well.

          1. re: Mike Lee

            Beggar's chicken, great! I started a new thread to highlight this, could you please tell us about it there?

            I'd first heard about stinky tofu when I was doing business in Taiwan. I asked my local colleagues to take me out for some. They'd just laught it off. When I insisted, they said they'd drive me by the restaurant that makes the best one. After I smelled it from the street, as they predicted, I'd had enough without eating it!

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Melanie, once you get past the repulsive smell, it's really tasty. I've tried it a couple times at New Star on Jackson St. as an appetizer before having their beef stew over rice. I can see all the people walking past New Star holding their noses or retreating to the other side of the street as if the area in front of the restaurant was a no-fly zone but people who know chau tofu accept the pungent smelly aroma as the price one pays to enjoy a delightful delicacy. Much like eating durian. Wooooh, foul smell but when you eat the flesh off the durian, it's tasty. Best durian I had was in Singapore at some hawker stall. Funny thing as we were going back to the hotel by subway, there was a sign in front of the entrance that read "No Durians Allowed"

              1. re: AJ

                I would have to agree with you 100% on the part about stinky tofu and durian. But due to some unknown reason, i am only able to eat the durian that people call "golden pillow" durian. I am not able to eat any other durian. From many experiences i would always throw up or have some major stomach disorder and feel really sick eatting any kind of durian beside the golden pillow. But all matter aside, the new star stinky tofu might be the a good place to eat the stinky tofu. But it still doesn't satisfy my cravings at times. Do you know any other place with stinky tofu around the bay area?

                1. re: Mike Lee

                  Hi, first time visiting the site and saw this topic. I find some of the comments hilarious. Don't know if others have posted it already, but there are two other places that I know serves stinky tofu. One is Joy in Foster City (look on on Yahoo Yellow Pages), and the other is 168 Restaurant in the Pacific East Mall in El Cerrito. Joy serves it steamed, stewed or fried, while 168 just serves it fried. They are all decent, enough to satisify your craving, but no where near what I remember as a kid eating at a street vendor in Taiwan.

                  1. re: Wendy Lai
                    Melanie Wong

                    Hi Wendy, welcome to chowhound! Had heard about Joy from one of my friends who lives near Foster City - what else do you recommend on the menu?

                2. re: AJ

                  Retreating to the other side of the street - when did you see me? (g)

                  You make a really good point about durian. I love durian. First had it in Jakarta, and then whenever it was in season on visits to S'pore out by the docks. I've made that leap of faith - guess I've gotta try stinky tofu at least once in this life.

      2. I assume you are speaking about cho dou fu. If a place in SFO really does sell it in any form I would be interested to know. The last time I checked it was illegal to import or sell for consumption in the US because of the health risks associated with its maturation...Perhaps this explains the cleanliness of the place you found it.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Panpan

          That's an interesting twist on this story. Maybe that's why the versions here seem to lack an extra something (so I've heard). They may not be made exactly the same way in order to comply with pasteurization, refrigeration, or other food handling laws.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I've had ChouDoufu at places in Monterey Park. It's like a thin smelly cheese. I bit like Doufu Ru only thicker and creamier. It was no smellier than limburger or a strong French cheese, like a Port Salut.

            Definitely not illegal.

            Does anyone know where one can find preserved Hebei apples and pears, Pingguofu or Lifu? I posted on the LA board but no one seems to know.

            1. re: jerome

              I've started a new thread with your request.

              HLing just posted on the What's My Craving board that making stinky tofu was comparable to making compost.


              1. re: jerome

                With due respect ...I know what Im talking about..Stinky tofu, if imported from mainland China in jars(looks slightly green) is illegal...and given this fact, it is likely if the same process of maturation is followed here in Chinese commercial kitchens and sold onto consumers that the product might be considered illegal by the Health Department. There are quite a few Chinese foods which are illegally imported into the US because of deceptive labelling. For instance,Bai jiu can sometimes be over 80 or 90% proof ( it actually has been known to kill people at banquets in China)and therefore exceeds the alcoholic content allowable for safe importation, but I have found it here in many Chinese shops.

                1. re: Panpan

                  with all due respect to you, panpan, there is no such thing as 80 to 90 percent proof alcohol. Proof refers to the alchol content. A drink that is 90 proof is 45 percent alcohol.

                  1. re: Panpan

                    There is nothing illegal about the proof of a drink. Bai jiu may not be allowed to enter the U.S. for other reasons, but if I can buy 100 proof Smirnoff vodka and 151 proof Bacardi rum, the proof can't be the problem. Maybe they're not using grain alcohol, substituting wood alcohol instead, which will kill you in hours.