Tofu x 2: Korean Tofu Stew at Muguboka and warm Oboru Tofu at Eiji
Tofu isn't something I crave or seek out much, but on Saturday I enjoyed a double-header of excellent tofu dishes that made me reconsider that stance.
Korean Tofu Stew (Soon Tofu) at Muguboka
I was running errands in Inner Richmond and looking out for a place still open for a late lunch. Muguboka was still serving past 2 p.m., and about a quarter of the tables were taken. Everything I tried was good (including a gratis cold cinnamon tea brought with the check) but the (also free) tofu stew that arrived before the dolsott bibimbap was really exceptional. A home-style stew of very soft tofu, red chili paste, green onions and a few thin slices of beef, it was the perfect antidote to a chilly day, and so luxurious and hearty, it was hard to believe they gave it away for free.
Oboru Tofu at Eiji
This is one of my favorite neighborhood spots, and seemed like a good choice when I was meeting someone still suffering from a cold. We got the warm housemade oboru tofu, which arrived in a ceramic pot that let up a cloud of steam when we removed the top. The texture--smooth, slippery clouds that pull together as the tofu cools--is wonderful, and reminded me of that Slate article about stinky tofu vs French cheese, in which tofu proponents complained about cheese's greasy mouthfeel while tofu has a clean, "clear" quality. The pot of tofu arrives with a six-part toppings bar of sesame seeds, ginger, scallions and a couple of other toppings, but I eat most of the tofu without accompaniment. The sick friend piled on a lot of ginger, and appreciated the creamy texture, which felt good against a cold-ravaged throat.
I love Muguboka. I tend to get the dolsot bi bim bop, but they are very generous with pan chan and extras.
Minako occasionally offers obotu tofu. Sushi Aka Tombo has a cold fresh tofu appetizer I'm hooked on too; the texture is fluffy and divine. (The owner of Sushi Aka Tombo is the brother of the current or previous owner of Eiji.)
Minako Organic Japanese Restaurant
2154 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
401 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94118
Sushi Aka Tombo
1737 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115