Northwest Tofu is a dingy looking restaurant/factory on Jackson, near the Moonlight Cafe. I had long desired a trip to taste the fabled salt and pepper tofu, but had been thwarted by the lunch-oriented hours. The stars recently aligned, and I went in for a lunchtime feast.
The restaurant was small and packed with people. The menu is loaded with tofu, but has a relatively small number of vegetarian and vegan options. My dining companion and I ordered vegetarian MaPo tofu, Chinese broccoli, and salt and pepper tofu.
The dishes came to our table in a massively time staggered way. We received the broccoli first. It was mediocre in the MSG/cornstarch/oil sauce kind of way.
Then came the mapo. I appreciated the addition of the edamame, and the tofu was silken and fresh, but this dish was also mediocre. Rather than spicy or rich, the sauce was excessively oily and laden with MSG.
At first we attempted to nibble our first two dishes and save some appetite while we waited for the star to arrive. Unfortunately this took so long, we had polished off the broccoli and the MaPo by time it finally did. This was a shame, because the Salt and Pepper Tofu was truly a delicious, satisfying dish and I was too full to really enjoy it.
The Salt and Pepper tofu felt to me like a perfect vegetarian junk food, like the vegetarian equivalent of fried chicken on the comfort food satisfaction scale. The inside was custardy smooth and piping hot, and the outside a light and perfectly fried crust flavored with salt and pepper. If I were to visit NW Tofu again, it would be to order this dish.
I had high hopes for NW Tofu, and was a little disappointed to discover that most of the vegetarian options, with the exception of the delicious salt and pepper tofu, were somewhat mediocre.