Saturday, November 04, 2006

2006 Tofu Festival

This past summer, I attended the Tofu Festival in Little Tokyo for the very first time. Since I do like tofu, I was very much interested to see what creations they would come up. My palate was definitely ready for whatever challenge lay before me.

Luckily, we got there early to avoid some of the intense heat that came in later on in the afternoon, plus we didn't have as many lines to stand in, which made it easier to sample quite a variety of tofu dishes. But before any sampling was going to take place, scrip tickets had to be purchased. With dishes ranging from as little as 1 ticket to the highest being 7 tickets, I figured that I'd do pretty good with $20 worth of tickets and believe me, I used every single one of my tickets. A perk with going with other people is that we also did a lot of sampling of each other's dishes. I can definitely say that I had more tofu that one day than I've had in an entire year.

Along with the items y
ou had to "purchase", there were also quite a few vendors giving out free samples. The samples were primarily various beverages, which were very much appreciated. Now on to the food.

There were two soy products that were kind of unusual (at least to me). One was soy "croutons." Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of this product but upon sampling them from someone else's dish, I found them to be too dry and even a little hard, so it was definitely a miss for me. The other new soy product was soy jerky and I can't believe how much I liked it. You could tell that it wasn't meat, but it was still chewy and the spices they used really gave a lot of flavor to the dried tofu.

As for the foods I really liked, one of them was a cold gazpacho soup with tofu. Yum! It was definitely appropriate for the hot weather, but the spicing of the soup was really good and the tofu kind of absorbed some of that flavor, so it made the tofu that much tastier. I also really enjoyed a Japanese eggplant curry with tofu. That curry was to die for. If only I had rice, I would have been a really happy camper. Other things I really enjoyed was deep fried tofu that came with a Thai sweet chili sauce and for dessert, my soy Chai Tea ice cream was heavenly.

Misses for me included the tofu sausage in a lettuce cup. That sausage was really dry and there was no flavor to it and while I liked the creamy texture of the tofu appetizer from Maison Akira, the whole dish just had a fishy taste to it that did not appeal to me at all.

When the tofu dish was good, it was really good. When it was so-so, it was really so-so. I can't say that there was anything innovative in regards to any of the tofu dishes, but overall, it was a very fun day and I would definitely make a return trip next year.

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