Monday, July 2, 2012

A Tasty Tofu Tour

A worker preps tofu curds for processing (photo by Peter Engler)
By Robin Amer, WBEZ
Is there a food more polarizing than tofu? Many meat-eaters turn up their noses at the bland, jiggly stuff, while vegetarians praise it for its delicious versatility and ability to soak up any flavor.

But tofu was a staple of East Asian cuisine long before it became an object of debate in the U.S. If you want to try one of the area’s finest examples, head to Sun Wah BBQ along the Argyle Street corridor in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Their off-menu special is roasted Beijing duck for two, served with plates of fluffy bao and crunchy daikon salad. But they also serve a variety of succulent tofu dishes even most die-hard meat-eaters can enjoy.

At Sun Wah and you’re really buying and eating local: The restaurant makes all of its own tofu right here in town. Co-owner Kelly Cheng says her parents and sisters went on a “literal machine hunt” in Taiwan after their partners of 18 years pulled out of the business that ran their old North Side factory. The Chengs returned with a steam-powered beast of a machine worth almost $500,000, which now lives in the Sun Xien Soy Products factory they opened this year in Back of the Yards. Continue Reading


  1. New research also shows that by replacing meat with alternatives such as tofu, TVP, and seitan you are more likely to have a lean, healthy and desirable physic. Which in turn will boost your personal, sex and professional life which THEN in turn will bring you riches and the life you've always dreamed of! ;-)

  2. Yes you are absolutely right!

  3. I live down the street from Sun Wah. When it was at its former location, I used to walk by it every day to and from work. I remember on several occasions seeing a sign posted on its door indicating the restaurant had been shut down by the Chicago Health Department. I do not plan on eating there anytime soon.

  4. Oh... I guess I won't be eating there either. I guess I'll keep buying my tofu dishes at whe foods.

  5. Mike and Un-Biased, I had an opportunity to speak with one of the owners of Sun Wah about a year ago. The reason it was shut down was actually because the inspectors did not understand how Peking duck is made. The preparation did not fit into any of their neat categories and so was flagged as a violation. In order to make it, the duck is boiled and then needs to be hung to dry, which is the step that the inspectors had trouble with. They have since been able to get a variance for the Peking preparation of duck, fortunately for all of us. There is no concern about food safety at Sun Wah; it was just a bureaucratic nightmare for them.