Stinky-stinky Tofu. Not just any stinky tofu but stinky-stinky tofu.
That was what JS described it when she wrote to a few of our foodie group alerting us of this ad she saw in the Chinese papers. It is about a new hot pot restaurant in Richmond who billed themselves as Taiwanese Stinky Stinky Tofu.
We were not ones to balk on trying such things. As a matter of fact, we relish on trying such stuff. I had stinky tofu before … many many years ago in Taiwan. It was OK then and so this should be easy.
So, JS, TS, Grayelf and us met up for dinner in Boiling Point.
This restaurant is located on the strip mall on No 3 Road where Celcius is, you know, just across the street from Memory Express?
Boiling Point took over the spot vacated by the Kelong Malaysian restaurant. We were quite surprised to learn that Kelong had finally called it a day. While the food in Kelong had never been known to be good, they had hung on for so long that one would think they will be there forever. As a matter of fact, Suanne just wrote about Kelong about three months ago. BTW, you know what is a Kelong? It is a fishing floating platform which used to be common in Malaysia. See pictures here if you are curious.
Anyhow … The Boiling Point restaurant has outlets on California and Washington state. This is their fifth outlet and the first in Canada.
First thing I did when I got there was stand outside the restaurant and took a deep breathe. It was cold and the air crisp that night. I thought surely if it is indeed stinky I could smell it from the outside.
No, nothing. Nada. Nyet. Nary a smell. On one hand it is a good thing. On the other, I was disappointed.
When I pushed opened the door, that smell hit home. OMG, that smells awful. To some it will smell awfully nice. To me, it just smells awful. It is like they were cooking rotten meat in sewage water in the toilet. Something like that.
But you know what, the smell gets better as time goes by. After a while, we did not even notice the smell. The first smell is awful. Yeah, I was telling myself the same thing the whole day long. Just to psyche myself up for this adventure. I know that like blue cheese and natto, the first bite is the hardest and the more you eat the better it gets.
The decor inside looks spartan. The ugly unfinished concrete floor just jumps out at me as sloppy decor but then it later dawned on me that perhaps they did this for practical reasons. I mean, if this is carpeted, the smell would collect! Then too I noticed that the chairs are plastics too.
BTW, do you know what is the origin of Stinky Tofu? Stinky Tofu is popular in Taiwan but it is also available in southern part of China including Hong Kong. I googled and found the following article from … Global Times (link here):
The story goes that during the Qing Dynasty, a young scholar, Wang Zhihe, failed the imperial examination. Too ashamed to return to his hometown a failure, he decided to stay in the city, raise money and re-sit the exam. Coming from a poor family of tofu-makers where he often lent a hand in the family business, Wang Zhihe decided to open a shop making and selling tofu.
During one hot summer, Wang Zhihe became worried that his tofu was spoiling in the heat, becoming inedible. He tried preserving the tofu in a jar with salt, and after a few days he opened it up to check on the contents. The smell was putrid but he bravely tasted his results, which were surprisingly tasty. He sold his tofu, labeled “stinky.”
The menu of Boiling Point is simple. It is basically individual servings hot pots. There are seven types:
- House Special (this is IT!)
- Korean Kimchi
- Curry Fishball
- Tomato and Veggie
Each of them are similarly priced. For lunch, it is $9 and it comes with rice and drink. For dinner, it is a dollar more and does NOT include the drink. So you want to go during lunch time if you can.
The Stinky-stinky tofu is named politically correct as the House Special Hot Pot. I gotta ask them to make sure that this is IT.
See? Even the description of the content does not use the word stinky, instead chosing to call it ORGANIC fermented tofu. Whoa! Organic! I wonder what organic really means.
There were five of us at the table and there are seven types of hot pots. We were about to choose our own until Grayelf suggested we just order all SEVEN of it. OK, I said … but … being a food blogger and for the sake of not losing face, I had to say yes. LOL! I mean, I think I am expected to be committed to the the cause.
Bring it on!
I like their HY-AYCE sauce station.
What? You don’t know what HY-AYCE is? It is Help-Yourself All-You-Can-Eat.
There are three types: chili oil, garlic soy bean and garlic soy. Copying what other tables did, I had some of the sauces mixed together.
Actually, we did not eat much of the sauces. It is because the food was already very flavourful and the sauces were unnecessary.
Love the milk tea. These are not included with the hot pots since we are here for dinner. The prices are mostly between $3.00 and $3.50.
The milk tea are served in those cute bottle which reminds me of milk bottles. Grayelf said that it reminds here of the bottles for cheap wine she had when she was a student and did not have the money for fancier ones.
Anyway, they have a good selection of drinks.
Mine was the Old Time Delight Plum Juice. I ordered this because I just love that name. It was refreshing, sweet and sour, like “suen mooi”.
For some reason I did not take the picture of the Stinky-stinky tofu. It looks the same as the one above anyway (which is the lamb hot pot).
The waitress told us that the stinky-stinky tofu is right at the bottom. I was thinking why is it at the bottom. Maybe it sunk to the bottom because it was full of heavy metal? LOL! Am just joking OK?
I braced myself. First the smell test. Yup, it smell real bad especially up close … especially when it is just next to my nostrils. I moved the piece of stinky tofu away a foot … took a deep breathe … close my eyes … told myself that the first bite is the hardest … brought to close … took a small nibble.
It must be my off day. I conquered natto. I conquered blue cheese. I failed this time.
It just had to be my off day. I mean, it is not the first time I had this but I can’t bring myself to take another bite. Some of the juices from the stinky tofu was on the rice. I thought that perhaps the juice on rice was not too bad. I can’t eat that too and wasted that.
The above is the Beef Hot Soup.
When you order the hot pot, you can specify the level of spiciness you want the broth to be. They listed SIX levels of spiciness which I thought was too much. A “big-medium-small” would have suffice but they listed it as:
- No Spicy
- Tiny Spicy
- Mild Spicy
- Medium Spicy
- Very Spicy
- Flaming Spicy
I wonder how they tweak the six levels of spiciness. Like what did they add to make them spicier? That question goes to the way they tweak spiciness levels in curries, hot pots and spicy dishes. I always wonder if people uses one of those million scoville units hot sauces. Have you ever tried one of those? I tried one (can’t remember the name) that a friend at work brought to the office that was so spicy it can kill. I took a toothpick tip taste of it and oh boy, it was really hot. I think a drop of that will kill half of the people who tries that!
It was a LOT of food. Although we ordered 7 hot pots, it was good that they forgot to bring one or else we will not be able to finish all of them.
One thing I did not quite like about the hot pots here is that you cannot control the flames. So, some of them dried out faster than we could eat them.
My favourite (and so is the favourite of most) was the Seafood & Tofu Hot Soup. This one is less “busier”
I like the raw egg. If I was not with the folks here, I would have scooped it out and mix it with the chili sauces and soya sauce to make it as a dip for the meat.
Anyway, you can get addons for the hot pots which costs from 50 cents to $3.50. We did not find it necessary as the hot pot is already full of ingredients to satisfy a hungry adult.
Yeah, lots of ingredients. They did not stinge with the meats.
It was not bad, just not great to tell the truth. The prices are good especially if it is during lunch and you get a drink with it too.
I wonder how long it will be before the neighbors starts getting a whiff of the food here and starts to complain. LOL! It is certainly an acquired taste and I know many people will appreciate stinky tofu.
Questions of the day:
Does anyone know of other Vancouver area restaurants that serves stinky tofu?
Is the commercial production of stinky tofu really banned in Vancouver?
Lunch: 11am to 3pm
Dinner: 3pm to 11pm