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.

Mama’s Kitchen (unrelated to the shop in Wilmington)
1718 New Ave
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 289-8984
Mama's Kitchen in Los Angeles
Mama's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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  • http://dianatakesabite.blogspot.com/ Diana

    I can definitely come around to that beef roll, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to handle stinky tofu. Food is not meant to be stinky. Unless it’s cheese. :)

  • http://www.cultureenthusiast.blogspot.com Tammi_LA

    Man, I really have to work up the nerve to try stinky tofu. I have never gotten over the smell to stomach it, but after hearing everyone rave about it, I think it’s about time! :P

  • http://www.nakedsushi.net/ Louise

    Oh hell yeah! I gotta go to Mama’s and try it out now. I haven’t had steamed stinky tofu since I was in Shanghai 2 years ago. Last time I was there, she was holding a toddler WITH NO PANTS ON. His butt was right on her arm! Maybe that’s where all the flavor in their stinky tofu comes from hm….

    I too love her beef rolls. It’s really the egg that makes it. It even tasted good cold.

  • cordandme

    Stinky tofu is the bomb! As American as my husband can be, he was horrified by the smell at first. Yet he loves me enough to overcome the smell and had his first bite. He has accepted this delicacy ever since.

    He would even allow me to cook the stinky tofu in our small 1 bedroom apartment. He comes home and sighs … “ahh.. stinky tofu”. Everything in our tiny apartment smells like stinky tofu for the next several days…

    There’s a tofu manufacture in Walnut called “長生”. They sell raw stinky tofu and it is good too. You will see the greenish tofu and wonder if they are okay to eat. I always deep-fried it. I figured… nothing can hurt me after it’s fried… haha..

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  • http://www.weezermonkey.com WeezerMonkey

    I went to Ding’s Garden awhile back with three brave co-workers. Only one still talks to me.

    Just kidding!

    One co-worker and I actually enjoyed the stinky tofu there, so I’m interested in trying Mama’s Kitchen.

    Oh, and our brunch at The Bazaar? Only $40 for all that. The prices in parentheses were if you were to eat all that a la carte. Thus, the prix fixe was quite the deal in my opinion.

  • http://teenageglutster.blogspot.com Teenage Glutster

    hey homez,

    have you had it at Indian restaurant?

  • http://myweekendpassport.com Alex

    Stinky tofu! It’s been a while since I’ve had me some, but I think I prefer it fried. Those beef rolls look great to eat too.

  • http://yutjangsah.blogspot.com sook

    yum those beef rolls look tasteee.

  • TonyC

    Hah! Funny guy Gluster. That’s like asking an hombre from East Los if he’s had raspados from Zacatecas.

  • juma

    actually, she does one of the best sliced pork shank in garlic sauce

  • http://www.theactorsdiet.com The Actors Diet

    i am so intrigued. my parents grew up on it but would never make it for us.

  • http://seewhatiameating.blogspot.com/ KJ Chen

    their food is not bad, the price is on the higher end though compare to the area! noodle items, I think, it’s their best sellings on the menu!
    BTW, tks for stopping my blog, i replied you there, thank you!

    K.J :)-

  • http://theroamingbelly.blogspot.com bagnatic

    that sounds disgusting…as a 1/2 chinawoman myself, i have YET to try stinky tofu. i doubt i ever will.

    beef roll…i know another place as well. 101 noodles or some crazy name like that. they serve soup noodles as well as that beef roll. tasty.

  • http://www.smallcarsonly.org Ankur Vakil

    I’ve had stinky tofu fried, and it sorta smells like pep boys.

    Its a acquired taste for sure, probably a lot like durian!

  • http://kungfoodpanda.blogspot.com Kung Food Panda

    I agree with the comment there’s not much to vouche for this place. I wondered if I got a bad batch of the beef rolls as it was too oily, thus I enjoyed the 101 version much better. Yet, that steamed stinky tofu totally has my attention!

  • mei guo gui ze

    just stumbled onto ma ma’s tonight while passing through, unaware of the reputation for the stanky-fu, although we did note it on menu. i am a big fan of aged tofu but didn’t try this particular variant. just want to comment on the place as a whole, which i must say we liked.
    first thing is that it has moved according to the owner, current address is 1308 E Valley in Alhambra, near the intersection of New. it is set back from the road so look carefully. the place has a back-alley decrepit charm not entirely unlike Kowloon or places of that ilk, except this is southern california take on all that and the place is siamesed to a funky old bowling alley that is still functional (also worth a peak).
    the owner (mama?) is very friendly with an interesting history. although she does not speak english. her husband and daughter round out the family business. in my opinion and that of my mainland gf the food is quite good and reasonably priced. gf notes that the recipes do not strictly adhere to old world conventions and yet the effect is much closer to authentic chinese than what is generally available to us in orange county.
    we will be going back and when we do i will likely take a stab at the stinky stuff.

  • http://www.foot-odour.co.uk foot odour problem

    Thank you for this informative and enlightening post. Health is so important and footcare should be an important part of your daily health regime.

  • http://twitter.com/kennethaz Kenny Zuckerberg

    I suspect you already know this, but commenting in case otehr readers come across this excellent page as I did. 1718 New Ave is now a Halal place called Omar’s. Mama’s – I’m pretty sure the same place as the one you describe here – is now around the corner at 1308 East Valley Boulevard.


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