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Buddha's Delight at East Asia in Somerville

For the last couple of years when I say "Hey let's order Chinese takeout" what I mean is "I want to eat the Buddha's Delight from East Asia." There's nothing particularly standout about the rest of their menu (and in fact my husband is still trying to find something full of vegetables and also spicy) but the tofu they put in their Buddha's Delight is some of the best tofu I've ever had. I'm trying to figure out how they do it to see if I can recreate it at home: it's not too soft, and just a tiny bit spongey, and it seems to be made up of many tiny layers and it splits a lot like good mozarella cheese. They use regular silken (I think) tofu in their mapo dofu Am I just buying the wrong kind of tofu or is there some treatment I can apply to my grocery store tofu to make it this awesome? Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide!

(P.S. I've seen this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/807665 and I'll be sure to visit the back counter on my next trip to Reliable!)

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  1. Haven't had it, but they may be blanching a firmer tofu. Treating a semi-firm or firm tofu in this way typically creates a similar texture to what you describe (it also removes the raw "soy" taste and primes the tofu for better absorbing flavors). After blanching, the tofu is ready for further use in recipes (like Buddah's Delight).

    1. That tofu is also in the yu hsiang homemade tofu and broccoli. It is really neat. I don't think there is anything you can do to boughten tofu to make it like that. I think you'd have to make your own tofu in a certain way to get it like that.

      East Asia is seriously hit or miss, mostly misses. Aside from the tofu and broccoli dish, I love their egg rolls and chicken fried rice. The kung pao chicken is also tasty. Haven't found anything else there that I would want to eat again yet. I'll definitely check out the Buddha's Delight...

      1. This is a great tip...I always like hearing about great dishes at otherwise so-so restaurants. I haven't eaten at East Asia in probably 8 or 9 years, so I can't remember what tofu they had back then. I'd love to see a picture of it next time you order it.

        Also, the way you described the texture made me wonder.....might they freeze and then defrost their tofu? I think I've done this before, and the texture comes out a bit spongy, which is kind of nice in the right kind of dish. But I also suspect that keith is right about them blanching it.

        Regardless, thanks for posting. I'd also be curious to hear how the Buddha's Delight at East Asia compares to a version from nearby Wang's on Broadway. hungrybruno, have you been to Wang's?

        Dave MP

        10 Replies
        1. re: Dave MP

          Sorry, since when has East Asia been "so-so?" It's been a while since I've been after we moved out of Somerville, but we always had nothing but wonderful food from that modest storefront. There are posts dating back to 2005, extolling their virtues. That very dish, Buddha's Delight, was one of my first and favorite dishes I tried there, but there were numerous others. We found that veggies abounded, but hot spice was not their style of cooking.

          1. re: digga

            Okay, I take it back! My new statement is: "I always like hearing about great dishes at otherwise less-talked-about restaurants"

            I looked back at old posts of mine...I really haven't been there since college. Back in 2002, I apparently liked the wonton soup! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/141868

            1. re: digga

              If you like abundant veggie specials, the oft-loved Qingdao often has a single-vegetable special. Every time I order it, I think "this time it'll be monotonous and boring" and thus order backup dumplings, but wish I hadn't because the veggie is both more interesting and healthier.

              1. re: enhF94

                Can you give me an example of one of these specials? Is it just a single vegetable alone? Or is there other stuff going on? I've been trying to order off the specials menu there more often. I like the long beans with pork and dried tofu a lot.

                I always order backup dumplings no matter what else I get. :)

                1. re: maillard

                  It's often asparagus. They have a seemingly infinite supply.

                  1. re: maillard

                    seems to be whatever strikes whim at the market. I've had lotus root twice and malabar spinach once (which was delicious, hadn't had it before).

                    1. re: maillard

                      If anybody's curious about the cauliflower special--I tried it with sausage. Pretty sure it was just cauliflower (large florets), sliced sausage, scallion, salt; pretty sure it was just steamed; real sure I'll try making it at home, it was very tasty..

                      1. re: Aromatherapy

                        You will have to try it at home - as another thread has noted, East Asia is gone.

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859317

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          Yeah, but we'd wandered OT and were talking about Qingdao.

                          1. re: Aromatherapy

                            Ah sorry my bad - the cauliflower is Qingdao - got it.

              2. Thanks everyone! I'll have to do a side by side comparison of blanching and freezing/thawing. And I'll definitely try the tofu and broccoli.

                5 Replies
                1. re: hungrybruno

                  It sounds like this might be layered soaked dried tofu skin. You can buy this in Chinatown. Chinese fake veggie chicken is made from this.

                  1. re: femmevox

                    I'm desparately hoping someone can help me out here. YEARS AGO, 1986 to be exact, I was a single guy working in Malden, and living in a little apartment in Somerville on what I think was Medford St. I remember that the elevated McGrath Hwy was directly across from my front door. Anyway, there was a Burger King just down the block, and in that direction, just a couple of blocks away was a little Chinese restaurant that made what I still consider to be the best Dragon and Phoenix that I have ever put into my mouth. It was in a spicy red sauce and was delicious. I live in Toms River, NJ now, and while I always try Dragon and Phoenix in every part of the country I go to, I've never had it in that spicy red sauce like that little Somerville restaurant made it. Is that recipe unique to that restaurant or that area? Does anyone have any idea of the restaurant that I'm talking about? Is it still there? The place may have been on Somerville Ave. It was definitely within walking distance to where I was on Medford. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

                    1. re: Knightrw1110

                      I don't know either the restaurant or the recipe you're referring to, but you might want to do a "virtual walking tour" of that neighborhood and see if you can find the place yourself. Use this link to Google maps to locate the Burger King that I think you're referring to, and then use street view to walk around the neighborhood. If you find the place you remember, perhaps you can find their phone number or someone here can visit it for you.
                      https://maps.google.com/maps?q=burger...

                      1. re: femmevox

                        No, it wasn't tofu skin. Freezing/thawing might get you close. It was pretty tasty tofu, but I have to agree with posters who said the rest of the menu was mostly misses.