Boiling Point on No 3 Road Between Alexandra and Leslie Road, Richmond

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.

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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.

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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:

  1. House Special (this is IT!)
  2. Seafood
  3. Korean Kimchi
  4. Beef
  5. Lamb
  6. Curry Fishball
  7. 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.

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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!

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I like their HY-AYCE sauce station.

What? You don’t know what HY-AYCE is? It is Help-Yourself All-You-Can-Eat.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

I like.

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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.

Revolting.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Yeah, lots of ingredients. They did not stinge with the meats.

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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?

Boiling Point 沸點 on Urbanspoon

Business Hour:
Lunch: 11am to 3pm
Dinner: 3pm to 11pm

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. Hi Ben, its a good thing you posted this review before I go try it. If you cant eat the stinky tofu Im sure I wont be able too myself. I will skip the stinky tofu when I go there for lunch.

    You know something I was driving along no.3 road and I happened to be stopped because of traffic near this stinky tofu place. I could swear I can smell it on the main street. Hmmm wonder how successful they will be. Not sure if a lot of people will endure dining in such a smelly restaurant.

  2. I don’t get it. Stinky tofu is supposed to be fried. Why do they put in a hotpot with boiling soup?

    Fried stinky tofu actually tastes pretty good if you get passed the smell.

    If it’s not fried, it won’t taste good. I bet.

  3. Sigh I really want to try their hot pots but I can’t endure the taste of stinky tofu at all >___<

    By the way how did you find the spicy levels?

    1. Hi Elaine: We asked for medium spicy for all hot pots except for the kim chi one (which was high spicy). It was not very spicy for my taste and did not even think much about the spiciness now that you asked. Ben

  4. I honestly don’t know why people find stinky tofu so revolting, but seeing as I find durian pretty nasty and stinky tofu completely okay (tastes like regular deep fried tofu to me), I guess it’s just a matter of taste and how you were brought up.

    I fondly remember going to this place in Richmond just near Mikasa Driving Range that would sell and serve stinky tofu on the weekends when I was younger.. and it was awwwwwwwwwesome.

    Not entirely sure, but what my mom told me was that people complained about the smell that came from fermenting the tofu, and so they were forced to stop producing and selling stinky tofu. However..I see no difference about the argument about the smell than say, Indian Curry or other ethnic foods…

    Anyways, this kind of stinky tofu is the ma-la hot pot type, not the crispy type, right?

    1. Ooooh…I remember that stinky tofu place…a friend of mine used to buy it for me from there…mmm…it’s better than many places in Taiwan!!!

      Yea…the stinky tofu in these pots are 臭豆腐干…different than the common deep-fried 臭豆腐.

    2. Hi Kevin: That’s correct. The kind of stinky tofu in Boiling Point is the hot pot type which looked like the normal firm tofu. Definitely not the crispy type. Ben

      1. So it’s just like normal firm tofu gone bad? There is no way that can taste good.

        The crispy type is worth trying because it’s crispy and has not yummy fried food taste. Can’t find it in Vancouver though.

        1. Hey Dina, there is a version of the crispy style stinky tofu at Dinesty in Richmond. Maybe not what you’re looking for but we liked it.

          1. Maybe it’s a secret item that you have to do the secret handshake with the manager in order to get 😉

          2. Let me find out whether Dinesty’s stinly tofu is on the menu or not, or what it’s call on their menu. Apparently, one of the owner’s father makes stinky tofu in Richmond but the Rmd Health Authorities were always on their backs so they stopped commercial production 2-3 yrs ago. They used to serve their deep fried stinky tofu in their warehouse with pickled Taiwanese cabbage. Missed that so much!

          3. I’m pretty sure it is D08 under snacks. I can email you a photo of the dish which we had for dim sum but it was before I stole your idea of taking a picture of the bill :-).

          4. Yup, just took a look. GE is right, it’s D08 “Deep Fried Flavor Tofu with Kimchi – $4.75”. Rather un-orthodox, or even blasphemous, with kimchi !

          5. Hi Grayelf and LotusRapper: You guys rock! 🙂 I’ll most definitely want to go try that Stinky Tofu … maybe this one I can eat. Ben

          6. Actually, isn’t it pao cai? Probably just got it translated to English wrong. 🙂

  5. I just happened to try it for the 1st time last week~
    Well, I guess I’m a TWnese, so I have no problem with the smell at all~

    As in fact, if you wanna talk about the correct level of stink-ness of the stinky tofu , I will have to say, it’s not stinky enough~!!!!
    It’s on the light side of the stink o’ meter~ XD

    Anyways, couple things I would like to point out:
    1. Pig-blood is in slice??? come on~~ give me a break~!!
    should give us in chunks!

    2. for even better taste and flavor, they should use duck-blood instead. But I never saw duck-blood in van at all, is it also banned in van??

    Note: Yes, commercial production of stinky tofu is still banned in Vancouver, due to some hard-head Health authority people who probably only sees “burgers & hot dogs” as a real food…

  6. You’re pictures are making me drool and it’s still early!
    As BG said, there’s 2 types of stinky tofu: 1 fried and 1 non.
    I can’t wait to try this place out this weekend. (im actually ecstatic!)
    Chinese-friend donut(油條) with Hotpot is REALLY good as well.
    Some of you guys should try it ;]

    1. Hi Gloria: Come to think of it, you could be right. I can see yutiao being good with hot pot too. Did you try this at home or was it in restaurants because I don’t I had come across it from restaurants before. Ben

      1. The first time I tried it was @Hotpot restaurants in Taiwan.
        I tried this at home and tastes just as good.
        The best kind to use (I think) are the extra fried or ‘day old ones’ as they are usually drier and harder, which are great when dunking in soup as they will be more crisp even if soaked.
        Just make sure you don’t cut them into small chunks. :]
        I’m craving some already!

    2. Ooooooh! 油條 is so goooooood in hot pots…especially with those day-old ones…mmm…I am gonna buy some for our next hot pot @ home…heheheh!

  7. Off topic but seeing the reference to duck blood made me remember.

    Does anyone know a place where I can get duck eggs in Vancouver?

    1. Hi Marcia: Duck eggs? The only types I know are the salted duck eggs and you can get it in a lot of Asian grocery stores. Ben

      1. Thanks Ben.

        The ones I’m looking for though are fresh. They are bigger and have a richer taste.

        Sunrise Market (if they understood me) said they had some periodically but every time I’ve been back I’ve never seen them.

        Something tells me I shall have to remain duck eggless!

        1. Hi Marcia, have you tried Chong Lee Market (2 locations: E 22nd/Rupert & 47th/Victoria Dr.)? They sometimes have duck eggs & other exotic goodies. Perhaps you can order from them. Just check with the cashiers. Good luck!

  8. Ben, I actually drove by Boiling Point today on my way to get congee take out from Kam Ho (they share the same parking). I am sick and congee is my “sick food”.

    Regarding to sticky tofu, if you still want to try we went to 508 Bistro (old location of Chill) in Burnaby on Kingsway in November. Their stinky tofu pot (with pork blood. pork intestine and sticky rice cake) was good! (Btw I like both HK and Taiwan style stinky tofu and all those “stinky food” that you listed) May be I should write up about 508. I only have pictures taken by my iPhone.

    1. Hi Winnie: Yeah, you should write up 508 Bistro. I drove and noticed that a few days ago when I went to get my glasses repaired. I would love to learn more about this place since it is close to my office anyway. If you want to go back and take better pictures and don’t mind hanger ons, let me know. Perhaps we can do a joint post. Ben

  9. If commercial production of stinky tofu is banned, wonder where the restaurant gets their supply? I suspect now stinky tofu is being produced at home since the Coastal Health Authority’s ban, but how come they passed licences allowing such establishments? Anyways, stinky tofu is one of my all time favorites espcially when deep fried & eaten with hoisin & chili sauce!

    1. I think stinky tofu used in hotpot can be from a frozen pack. But those that can be deep fried have to be fresh tofu. So I guess the frozen stinky tofu is import from somewhere else?

  10. I haven’t had natto yet. But I enjoy strong blue cheese and all other rich, stinky European cheeses. I haven’t tried durian yet.

    Is stinky tofu like the fermented tofu sold in jars, used as a condiment for foods? Chances of me even trying stinky tofu in Calgary are pretty in low right now.

    But then I missed out whatever chances in Vancouver and Toronto.

    1. Hi Jean:

      Oh you’re in Calgary now? All the while, I thought you are in Vancouver. Anyway, stinky tofu I guess is one of the many varieties of fermented tofu. However, the fermented tofu in jars you see in Chinese grocery stores are not the same type we had in Boiling Point.

      You know, a good introduction to durian is to try durian blend which is found in some Vietnamese restaurants. It does not smell but yet it has the taste.

      Ben

  11. Although I hate stinky tofu, too bad there aren’t any fried ones available in Vancouver. One of my aunties has been asking me to find out for her LMAO

  12. Ben asked: “Does anyone know of other Vancouver area restaurants that serves stinky tofu?”

    I believe Dinesty has stinky tofu, IIRC it being mentioned by JS.

    Don’t think I can come to like this type of stinky tofu. For me, it has to be fried, with chopped garlic on top, and with chili paste, soy and sesame oil dipping on the side, the way I remember it in Taipei.

    As for “illegal production”, see last paragraph here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinky_tofu#Production

    “In North America, stinky tofu is often “home-made” in cities with significant numbers of Asian immigrants. For example, some Asian tofu factories in Vancouver, Canada produce stinky tofu underground as a side-business to avoid government inspections.[6]”

  13. I’d only had fried chou tofu from a less-than-pristine hole-in-the-wall northern place on Joyce (possibly now changed to Golden Fortune?)… very stinky, very challenging.

    But I just came back from Taiwan and was surprised to find that I liked every version I tried there. The tofu was less stinky than the ones I had previously tried in Vancouver, and better-balanced with the cabbage, vinegar, etc. Very tasty. Totally understand it now.

    Guess I’ll have to try Dinesty when I start to miss it… 🙂

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