臭豆腐 (chòu dòu fu) aka stinky tofu:
Let’s be honest, stinky tofu is an acquired taste and even then some people will just never acquire it. As a lover of stinky tofu all I ask is that you try it. Don’t let the smell deter you. As a child I would walk through night markets and make faces and gag a little when I walked passed stinky tofu stales, but after a cousin urged me to try it in middle school I was totally sold. To me, the stinkier the better, but to some, to quote a friend, “it tastes like a zoo smells”. The fact that even Andrew Zimmern doesn’t like it might scare some people, but suck it up, give it a try.
So what is stinky tofu exactly? From wikipedia: “Stinky tofu is a form of fermented tofu, which, as the name suggests, has a strong odor. It is a popular snack in East and Southeast Asia, particularly Taiwan, Indonesia, and China, where it is usually found at night markets or roadside stands, or as a side dish in lunch bars.
It is perhaps interesting to note that the words “stinky tofu” is a direct translation of the Mandarin term chou doufu. However, the Mandarin word chou does not have the same negative connotation as the English word “stinky”. Chou therefore serves mainly as a factual descriptor and not a judgment on the virtues of the odor. Occasionallychou is translated as “fragrant”, but this too imposes a “pleasant” or “flowery” judgment on the term, which does not accurately represent the food either.”
My Favorite Stinky Tofu
Cart Outside of Campus Books
address: 台北市中正區4段24/Lane 24, Section 4, Luósīfú Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei
Out of MRT Gongguan Station (捷運公館站) Exit 4 head north on Roosevelt Road (羅斯福路) toward Starbucks. Across the street from that Starbucks on the side of Campus Books is a stand that sells 臭豆腐. It’s my favorite, plus his 泡菜 (pào cài: pickled cabbage) is really good. Don’t forget the hot sauce. Note that he’s only there at night time and usually doesn’t set up shop until around dinnertime.
一吃獨秀 (Yī Chī Dú Xiù)
address: 台北市中正區4段136巷1弄11號/No. 11, Alley 1, Lane 136, Section 4, Luósīfú Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei
Also in Gongguan is the famous green stinky tofu (綠色臭豆腐) of 一吃獨秀 (Yī Chī Dú Xiù). Originally the famous store was located inside of Shida Night Market, but has since moved down the way to the Gongguan area. From MRT Gongguan station take Exit 1 and head south on Roosevelt Rd. The restaurant is tucked away in a small alley that off shoots from the food alley next to the Shuiyuan Market building (水源市場). Their stinky tofu is delicious and famous for it “green” color. Definitely worth a try and one of my most favorites.
Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街; aka Shenkeng Stinky Tofu Street)
address: Shenkeng District, New Taipei City/深坑區新北市
For tofu lovers, stinky or not, Shenkeng Stinky Tofu Street is a great place to check out. Visit my review for it here for directions and suggestions.
168 Restaurant(7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92111 /858.268.1168)
Spices III (369 12th St., Oakland, CA 94620/510.625.8889): Consistently good, although the 泡菜(pào cài: pickled cabbage) is sometimes a little weird.
Spices (294 8th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94118/415.752.8884): The original Spices restaurant. Always good. There’s another Spices, Spices II, two blocks away that doesn’t serve it, so be warned.
Know where to find good 臭豆腐? Tell me about it!