Northwest Tofu Inc.: Tasty takes on tofu
Northwest Tofu Inc., a Chinese cafe east of the Chinatown International District, specializes in tofu, selling it wholesale and incorporating it into its menu. Vegetarian dishes are offered, but it's not a vegetarian restaurant.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Northwest Tofu Inc.Chinese
1913 S. Jackson St., Seattle
Hours: 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays and Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays, closed Wednesdays.
Etc: Cash only; no obstacles to access; street parking and a free lot behind the restaurant (but don't park near the minimart just east of Northwest Tofu); no alcohol.
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Tofu is what vegetarians subsist on. At least that's what I thought as a narrow-minded high-school student in California.
Then I grew up and discovered tofu as a delicious staple of East Asian cooking that may go back 2,000 years. It is soft with an inimitable texture and the preferred medium of the culinary artists at Northwest Tofu Inc., a Chinese cafe located near 19th Avenue South and South Jackson Street.
They make tofu so good that they sell it wholesale, in addition to incorporating it into the menu — which is as delicious as it is affordable.
You can also buy tofu to take home afterward. Fried tofu is $3 per pound, spiced tofu is $3.25. There's fresh rice milk and soy milk, too.
The menu: Northwest Tofu offers vegetarian dishes, but it's not a vegetarian restaurant. The salty soy milk ($3.75) draws on pork to give it a wonderfully savory flavor. Try it with a Chinese doughnut.
The sesame pancake, folded in half with beef in the middle, is one tasty sandwich ($3.50). The fried rice cakes ($7.99) are soft and chewy, and will be loved by anyone who likes hand- shaven noodles.
Rice rolls — glutinous rice filled with pork, vegetables or other treats — are another popular choice. Congee (rice soup) also is worthwhile.
The menu is in English and Chinese, the waitstaff is patient and helpful, and the dishes are numbered to avoid confusion.
What to write home about: The salt and pepper tofu ($5.99), a deep-fried dish that can accurately be called light. The frying creates a crispy crust packaging the pillowy soft cubes of tofu. Simple and simply delicious.
What to skip: The green- onion pancake. It's not bad; it's just not as outstanding — or unique — as the other items on the menu.
The setting: The fluorescent lights and ceiling tiles are reminiscent of a grade-school classroom or day care. The awning out front is dirty, the inside could use a wallpaper scraping followed by a fresh coat of paint. Come for the food, not the décor.
Summing up: Two of us shared four dishes for $25, including tax. It was too much food, leaving enough left over for two lunches the next day.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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