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Vegetarian Tofu Dishes Cambridge/Somerville

I'm looking for good vegetarian tofu dishes in the greater Cambridge, Somerville area that may inspire me to try and recreate them at home. Appreciate any suggestions!

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  1. I like the tofu skewers at River Gods a lot. I've managed to figure out how to replicate them pretty well at home on the grill.

    1. Three tofu dishes that I (an omnivore) will order preferentially over meat dishes:

      The buffalo tofu appetizer at Christopher's is surprisingly tasty, addictive, and not weird.

      The Yu Hsiang spicy homemade tofu with broccoli from East Asia finds its way into every one of our take-out orders.

      The spicy eggplant with tofu from Sugar and Spice is quite good, although I get this one with chicken about half the time.

      1. At the fine-dining level, a seared silken tofu entree at OM Restaurant, "General OM's tofu", was really outstanding at a recent dinner: crisped silken tofu (how'd they do that?!), purple rice, baby choy, and a fiery, sweet/sour sauce. It was the highlight of our dinner, and the tastiest tofu dish I've had outside of an Asian restaurant in a while. I don't see it on the current menu, however.

        4 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          I'm curious about this dish (and I recall thinking so after your original post) - is it similar to agedashi tofu or something quite new and different? Sounds wonderful - sorry I missed it!

          1. re: a l i c e

            I don't believe I've knowingly had agedashi tofu, but I'm guessing the OM dish wasn't deep-fried. However, it would make sense that it had been coated with some kind of starch to give it that crisp texture, perhaps dusted with corn or potato starch and pan-fried.

            I broke my rule: "Never change your first-choice order just because someone ahead of you ordered it." However, two people ordered it ahead of me, so it would have meant three of four entrees were the same, which I judged a gamble. Sure enough, my second choice (a duck duo) paled in comparison. Criminy! Next time, I'm sticking to my rule, even if it means everyone at the table orders the same thing.

            1. re: a l i c e

              Speaking of agedashi tofu, I had a pretty nice version at Bluefin, but that was years ago. Any recent experiences?

            2. re: MC Slim JB

              This is so very good, I will go back just to have it again.

            3. I'm not sure you'll be inspired to make it at home, but I adore the bean curd skin with mushrooms (Q36) from Qingdao Garden. It's chewy and flavorful with a very subtle sweetness. I also like their tofu mixed with preserved egg (Q43) which combines the silky mild tofu with a strong salty preserved egg. It's really the egg I like in that dish but the tofu does set it off nicely. This would be easier to make at home than the skins.

              1. Frozen tofu with mushrooms at Zoe's. Super-simple, easy to make at home (plus you can use real mushrooms, I can't freakin believe they use canned mushrooms), and really good.

                1. Ma pa tofu is a genuine classic. Depending on your interest and skill level, doing at home . . . Any of the places known for their northern Chinese dishes - Zoe's has been mentioned in this thread already.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lergnom

                    Mmmm mmm mmm!!!! Ma Po Tofu is one of my favs to make at home - but sadly you can't quite do it without ground pork or beef :-)

                  2. Another tofu dish worth looking into is the dou fu nao at Wang's or Qingdao. This is a typical Northern Chinese breakfast dish, tofu in a starchy, savoury sauce, often spiced with chilli, garlic and pepper.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: limster

                      I believe that's "Chinese bean curd soup" on Wang's menu? Slightly hot, slightly sour, don't remember especially starchy. Very simple, I've seen recipes but can't remember where. Anyhow it's a winner. Their "mapo tofu" is a thicker version and while vegetarian and not untasty, is a travesty of that dish.

                      Of course you can make (real) mapo tofu without meat--just leave it out. I prefer the dish with meat but don't think it's essential, there are stronger flavors in there.

                    2. There is a tofu with dry black bean sauce at Mulan that I'd like to try next time I'm there. I shared a whole fish with that same "sauce" (not at all liquid-y; more like a crust of firm or dried beans) with some friends a while back that I found positively delicious. The fish underneath was flaky and moist, much like a salt crust-encased fish. I wonder if the same treatment with tofu would be equally tasty. Not sure if that sauce or the tofu version is strictly veggie, though.

                      Limster - Sadly, I have not had any agedashi tofu since a really flavorful one in Kyoto a couple of years ago. I think it's time to try some around town.

                      1. Thanks for all the suggestions which I’ll start eating my way through and attempt to cook at home. For some reason, good tofu at home has always eluded me. Maybe I just need some new inspiration.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: zigzag

                          Make sure to get it fresh (try Super 88, and pick a container with the latest expiration date) and add plenty of MSG.

                          1. re: zigzag

                            I can never make tasty tofu at home either. However, I have found that buying blocks of fried tofu from Kotobukiya (in the Porter Exchange building) and slicing it up to add to dishes makes for pretty decent tofu at home. It's in the fridge to your left right when you enter the place.

                            Otherwise my favorite restaurant tofu dishes are the buffalo tofu at Christopher's and this spicy tofu that I forget the name of at Qingdao Garden.

                            1. re: zigzag

                              Get the locally made stuff, fresh as possible.

                              1. re: Aromatherapy

                                and after you squeeze the water out let it sit on paper towels for a good 20 minutes.

                            2. We've moved an off topic digression about tofu recipes to the Home Cooking board, at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39777...

                              1. I really like the sesame tofu at Sesame, over in Teele Square in Somerville. It was delicious and I don't usually like tofu.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: abs294

                                  But be aware that Sesame is no more. Szechuan Bay is there now.

                                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                                    Sad. They were one of my favorite places.

                                2. Try all the Japanese appetizer-sized preparations of tofu at Ittyo in the Porter Exchange. Ittyo's hiyayakko showed me for the first time that uncooked tofu with mild seasoning can be enjoyable and refreshing.
                                  Elephant Walk's lemongrass tofu is good, perhaps the most memorable thing from that restaurant.
                                  Buffalo tofu at Christopher's is well done.
                                  Just across the Belmont line, Shangri-La has a dish on the regular menu that is called something like spicy fish and tofu. Their preparation of tofu was one of the most outstanding I've ever seen--chewy on the outside and creamy on the inside. I think this is one of the best restaurants in the area, and I'm surprised it hardly ever gets mentioned on this board. Don't know if this counts as vegetarian but if you eat fish this is worth trying because of the unique preparation.
                                  MaPo tofu from Zoe's Chinese (which delivers, btw). They have a vegetarian version.
                                  Stirfried tofu string and chives from Wang's in Somerville (not my personal favorite dish, but it will give you ideas)
                                  Spicy string beans and tofu from Rangzen in Central Square.

                                  Just today, we had lemongrass tofu from Xinh Xinh in Chinatown. I was very pleased with the remarkable meaty texture of the tofu. One of the best I've seen in the Boston area.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: aventinus

                                    What's the fish like in that Shangri-La dish?

                                    1. re: Luther

                                      Sliced and I don't think battered, but beyond that I don't remember very well.