CP Photo: Dani Janae
Viridis' Breakfast Burrito
For vegetarians and vegans, tofu is a versatile, affordable protein that is very transmutable when it comes to flavor. When I started cooking with tofu, I constantly heard, “Tofu is only as good as the flavors you cook it with.” With textures from silken to extra firm, you can use tofu as a meat alternative or as the base for a dessert. The idea that it’s hard to get tofu right deters many from trying to cook with it, or eat it when it's on a menu. However, there are some places in Pittsburgh doing tofu justice. Here are eight of our favorites:
639 E. Warrington Ave., Allentown. onionmaiden.com
Featured on their vegan menu, Onion Maiden has an item called Balls to the Wall. This dish features tofu croquettes served with black rice, sauteed kale, bean sprouts, red, cabbage, soy caramel, and sesame seeds. Forming the tofu into croquettes (a fried ball of vegetables or protein) is a unique spin as opposed to a simple pan fry.
5202 Butler St., Lawrenceville. b52pgh.com
B52 is another fully vegan restaurant that does tofu very well. For their breakfast, they feature both a Tofu Scramble and a Kofta Scramble with tofu. For the uninitiated, the Tofu Scramble is just what it sounds like: an alternative to scrambled eggs. B52 makes their Tofu Scramble with kale, sautéed shiitake, and potatoes and onions, while their Kofta Scramble comes with kofta seitan, kale, potatoes and onions, and harissa.
202 38th St., Lawrenceville. umamipgh.com
Umami has a couple of dishes on their menu that feature tofu, like the Agedashi with fried tofu in a savory dashi broth, enokie mushrooms, daikon, scallion, and katsuobushi (smoked and fermented skipjack tuna). They also have miso soup with tofu, wakame (a kind of algae), and negi (long green onion).
Smiling Banana Leaf
5901 Bryant St., Highland Park. smilingbananaleaf.com
Smiling Banana Leaf is a Highland Park staple, and for good reason. On their menu, you can substitute tofu for most proteins in noodle dishes and stir frys. For their small bites section, you can get Tofu Paradise, fried tofu with napa cabbage, carrots, and peanut sauce, or simple fried tofu with sweet and sour sauce and ground peanuts. In both instances, the tofu is crispy and fried to perfection.
1506 E. Carson St., South Side. viridispgh.com
Yes, we just did a food review for Viridis
, but it's worth mentioning them again because their tofu egg is delicious. Whether stuffed into their Breakfast Burrito or laid delicately on their Bakon, Egg, and Cheese biscuit, the tofu egg stands out for its delicious egg-like flavor and fluffy texture.
4923 Penn Ave., Garfield. simonchough.wixsite.com
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Soju's Killer Tofu
So much has already been said about the Killer Tofu
at Soju, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it here. With fried tofu tossed in a pineapple soy glaze, it is, in fact, killer. So many people rave about it, as they should, so let's just add one more voice to the praise.
Bae Bae’s Kitchen
951 Liberty Ave., Downtown. baebaes.kitchen
Bae Bae’s is great if you work Downtown and want to stop in for lunch. It does get crowded so try and go as early as you can. Bae Bae’s style is to have you build a bowl with either rice, noodles, or mixed greens; add a protein like their fried tofu; and then, add extras and sides that change daily. Their tofu is perfectly seasoned and flavorful, and is a great way to introduce yourself to the ingredient if you’re unfamiliar.
Banh Mi & Ti
4502 Butler St., Lawrenceville. instagram.com/bahnmiandti
Banh Mi is a perfect sandwich made only more perfect by adding crispy fried tofu into the mix. Top yours with jalapenos, sriracha, or mayo if you aren’t going vegan, and enjoy this restaurant's tender tofu. There’s a light fry on the tofu at Banh Mi & Ti, so it doesn’t feel as heavy as some other places that cook with tofu.