This dish is 20 years in the making. No wait, I exaggerate, maybe 7 years in the making… The last time I had steamed non-spicy stinky tofu was somewhere in Flushing, NY, circa mid 2002. There, on Main Street, a Shanghainese(?) restaurant with basement-level entrance, steamed up a beautiful pile of white soy poop. No one blogged then, so you just have to take my word for it.
2 years ago, I found rancid soy bliss in the form of Ding’s Garden. The new-ish owner started steaming spicy stinky tofu. I “yelped” it. It was funky, but lacked… clarity. Plus, the color was all wrong. What I needed was straight funk, without the spiciness, more James Brown, less George Clinton.
About 2 months ago, another gem graced my tongue. Behold the most glorious piece stank ass tofu in LA at the moment: Mama’s on New Ave, San Gabriel. Pure steamed putridity, no hot grease to cover the delicate hot foot odor that is stinky tofu. Mama’s has very few redeeming qualities, but the house made stinky tofu is 1 of them:
The other is the regionally ubiquitous beef roll, a dish well loved by all, from Mr. J Gold to the lovely Uncouth Gourmands. This version of the Chinese flat bread wrapping braised sliced soy beef is adorned with copious cilantro, just like the 101 Noodle Express version. What distinguishes Mama’s from the ilks of Mandarin Noodle Deli and others is the scrambled egg interspersing the well oiled flat bread and tender beef. It is this simple addition that makes it a “tastier” alternative and why Mama’s was the beef roll destination of choice for Man Bites World’s China (11-in-11) selection.
I vouch for nothing else in this 2 decade old shambles of a shack. This is not a Taiwanese restaurant, but they have been fermenting their own stinky tofu for “a long time”. No clue how I missed the red sign all these years, anyone with any additional insight, please comment.