Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stinky tofu on a stick (金大鼎)

peanut flour & cilantro variation

Seeing as there's an entire street of vendors selling nothing but tofu, if your cart is famous, you must've done something incredibly right (or I guess wrong, if we're talking about stench). Near the big tree at the entrance of 深坑's 'old street,' there's a cart called 金大鼎, which translates to 'Gold Big Pot.' I agree, it's a dumb name, but supposedly their stinky tofu is the best in Taiwan. Given their strategic location at the beginning of the street, there was a line about 15 deep even though it was 10 am (who else freakin' eats stinky tofu at 10 am?!). Naturally my curiosity was aroused. BRING ON THE STINK.

金大鼎 owner/cart

Sorry about the out of focus picture, I was playing with manual focus for a while, then I couldn't for the life of me figure out why AF wasn't working. Have I mentioned I'm somewhat of an idiot? Anyway, that's the OG stinky tofu cart owner and his cart. Given the demand, he basically has a factory line operation where he has a line of skewered stinky tofu blocks sitting over a grill contraption (which actually reminded me of a gyro spit). When people order, he just slides the appropriate number of skewers down the line and prepares each one to order. Like a machine, the line was whittled down within 10 minutes, so despite the popularity the wait time isn't stupid absurd.

金大鼎 menu

Like I said, each skewer (OT: I like the Chinese word for skewer... '串') is made to order based on what flavor you want. That's right, he'll destroy your olfactory senses in a multitude of flavors! There's plain pickled veggies, peanut flour & cilantro (pictured at top), original, or mixed veggies AND peanut flour + cilantro. With none of the prices topping 40 NT ($1.25), you can afford to buy more stinky tofu than you'd ever want to eat at once easily. Hmm, I wish someone would make a stinky tofu eating contest, I would rock the shit out of that competition.

pickled veggies variation

So how were the two I got? The peanut flour and cilantro flavor is a tribute to pig's blood cake. Savory from the soy sauce applied during grilling, sweet from the peanut flour, refreshing cilantro, and stinky to boot, I liked this combination of flavors more. While I love pickled veggies too, there's just something so irresistible about the complexity of flavors in the peanut flour one that made it the clear winner (don't get me wrong, the pickled vegetable variety is worth trying). Sigh, if it weren't so damn far away, I would get this for breakfast like everyday.

Conclusions... not everyone likes stinky tofu. Some people can't get over the stench long enough to actually take a bite into it. If you can though, it's a wonderful symphony of conflicting flavors for your mind. Honestly, you'd be confused how something that smells so wrong can taste so right. If you've never had it before (and have the opportunity to go to 深坑), this stand would probably be the best introduction possible to the world of fermented soy foodstuffs.


Anonymous said...

I've never had stinky tofu, but my mom used to eat it a lot when I was little. That blast of peanut, cilantro, and pickles sounds pretty tempting... And lol, the stinky tofu man's cart looks reminds me of the shiskebobs they sell in flushing xDD

Nicholas said...

Now that I had a chance to look at it again, it looks more and more like pig's blood cake haha. I guess all Chinese food looks the same after all :) makes me wonder why I photograph it.

Danny said...

ah.. i've never seen anything like that before. all these posts make me wanna live in Taiwan for a little bit and sample things like this. Too bad I can't read Chinese, other wise I might actually do that. haha

Nicholas said...

But Danny, not speaking/reading Chinese is the greatest blessing ever... I've found that if I act like a tourist and speak entirely in English, the vendors tend to give me extra food. Bonus points for having a big camera.

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