Vegan’s don’t like tofu. You heard me right – that bland, tasteless white block of nothingness that many omnivores think is a vegan’s only sustenance (besides lettuce) – vegans hate it.
But let me be a little more specific…Vegans don’t like bad tofu. Poorly prepared tofu typically has no flavor as well as texture like a soft, wet sponge. That sounds about as bad to a vegan as it does to an omnivore.
Tofu is essentially coagulated soy milk formed into blocks, pretty similar to how cheese is made with animal milks. It comes in a variety of textures from soft and creamy (silken) to extra firm – which makes it a versatile ingredient to many savory or sweet dishes.
The problem is, a vast majority of restaurants that sell tofu seem to have no idea how to make it – which tends to give tofu (and those known for eating it) a bad rap. Some fail to add any seasoning or marinade, while others seem to completely forget to actually cook it.
Take these lifeless slivers of sadness on an otherwise perfectly edible salad. The “grilled tofu” addition at this restaurant was no more than raw tofu warmed up on a skillet for a few seconds then slapped on top…yummy! (sarcasm):
Now I hate to complain, because vegans certainly appreciate the initiative of restaurants to offer tofu as an option – and most vegans experienced at cooking understand that tofu is not easy to prepare well. But there comes a time when every restaurant should know that if it doesn’t taste that great to an omnivore, it might not be a vegan’s dream-dish either.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Dallas’ better tofu options that a skeptical omnivore might give a try if you’re looking to try something new…
P.F. Chang’s/Pei Wei
Yes, I understand this is an evil corporate chain, but you can’t deny their tofu is simple perfection. It’s the ideal chewy consistency that holds up well to the many sauces and veggies that might accompany it. Order the “Buddha’s Feast” at P.F. Chang’s (with a side of chili paste) or one of the many vegetarian dishes at Pei Wei and you’re sure to taste the difference.
Spiral Diner’s “The Mitch”
The oldest all-vegan restaurant in Dallas proper also happens to have one of the best sandwiches in DFW – “The Mitch” tofu club. This tofu is a thinly sliced sandwich-sized patty pan fried to a golden brown and served with typical club fixin’s – three bread slices, tomato, lettuce, (vegan) ranch and “Bac’Uns.” All of the flavors come together to perfection, and if not for the name, you’d hardly even notice it was made with tofu.
ZEN Sushi’s “Tofu Lettuce Wrap”
Home to an outstanding all vegetarian menu separate from their regular meaty offerings, the tofu in ZEN Sushi’s “Tofu Lettuce Wraps” are the perfect balance of a slightly chewy outside, with a soft (but not mushy) inside. Served with a sweet and subtly spicy sauce, these wraps hold up well to other meaty competitors.