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Doufu Nao from Z&Y [San Francisco]

soupçon | Feb 19, 2015 09:07 AM

I was unaware until informed by a friend the other day that Z&Y Restaurant has a Sichuan version of doufu nao (lit. "tofu brains") on its menu, hiding under the name "Silky Tofu With House Spicy Sauce." If you are not familiar with it, it's basically fresh tofu with chili oil and whatever you choose to garnish it with. I fell in love with it in Shanghai, where it's a quintessential street breakfast food and called "doufu hua" or just "douhua" (if you ask for that here you'll get the same kind of tofu topped with a sweet ginger sauce).

I picked up an order for myself yesterday while getting some other cold dishes for the family nianyefan (New Year Eve dinner) and was quite pleased with what I found. It was a HUGE portion, coming in a quart-size container, three or four times the single-serving size you'd get at a street stall in Shanghai. The sauce was more "ma" (numbing) and less "la" (spicy) than the Shanghai version, which is said to have originated in Anhui, but quite satisfying overall. My one complaint, if you could call it that, is that if had far more "House Spicy Sauce" than needed, though it's a simple enough thing to siphon off the excess and save it for other uses.

The "Silky Tofu With House Spicy Sauce" is listed as $5.95 on the on-line menu for Z&Y, but might be a bit more as I has difficulty parsing the total bill for my multi-item takeout. Even at a buck or so more it would still be a bargain, given the size. A bonus of getting it takeout is that the tall, cylindrical plastic container enhances the verisimilitude resembling, as it does, the street version writ large.

I will be back for more!

As mentioned above, the pic below is an example of the (much smaller) Shanghai street version I got on Huining Lu.

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