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San Jose Tofu at Suruki Market in San Mateo

Pia | May 28, 2005 02:06 AM

Many a time I had been mystified by a perpetually empty section in Suruki's refrigerated case. As in many small eithnic supermarkets, space is at a premium, and there's no such thing as underutilized real estate. Then, one day, I noticed a small piece of paper taped to the edge of the empty refrigerated section: "San Jose Tofu, arrives Wednesday 12:00-1:00 p.m." I was intrigued. Why such precision in noting the delivery time? Why was this section always empty?

Last Wednesday, I made it a point to find out, and I was there well before 4 p.m. About 8 packages of tofu were left, more-or-less cubical white blocks on small styrofoam trays, wrapped in doubled-up plastic bags, liquid sloshing around the bottoms. No big commercial operation here. I picked up 2 packs and the other makings of a sukiyaki.

Now I know why that case is always empty. That was probably the best tofu I've ever had! The beancurd was very tender, retaining a textural trace of the original curds, but with no mushiness whatsoever. And the flavor--absolutely fresh and clean--pure, sweet soy milk with no hint of chemical aftertaste. This is beancurd that can make me consider becoming vegetarian for a nanosecond--no, two, even three, nanoseconds.

I was back at Suruki on Thursday, but there was no more tofu. You know where I'll be next Wednesday, just after noon.

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