Tofu Village

Special thanks to Tofu Village for extending this food review invitation.

The proprietors behind Taiwan Bull in Queensbay Mall opened a new eatery at Church Street (Lebuh Gereja) recently. Named Tofu Village (豆腐村), this new restaurant specializes in Hakka delicacies (客家菜) such as yong tao fu (酿豆腐).
The dishes here at Tofu Village are the result of culinary assimilation between local traditional Hakka recipes and their Taiwanese-Hakka counterparts.
Tofu Village's yong tao fu (酿豆腐) pieces are filled with fish paste that are primarily made from mackerel. In addition, the paste also contains some minced pork to impart unique taste. Per Taiwanese-Hakka recipe, a hint of salted fish is added for the savory appeal. Nevertheless, the amount of salted fish is toned down to suit the local palate.
Yong tao fu is served in a claypot for orders of 5 pieces or more. Clear soup (清汤) is complementary, but one can opt for tomyam soup (东炎汤) or dry version black bean sauce (黑豆豉) for RM1.20 and RM0.80 respectively. Recommended yong tao fu items are Tau Fu (豆腐, RM1.20), Tau Kua (豆干, RM1.20), Tau Pok (豆卜, RM1.00), Brinjal (茄子, RM1.20), Bitter Gourd (苦瓜, RM1.20), Fish Ball (鱼丸, RM0.80) and Celery Fish Ball (芹菜鱼丸, RM0.90).
There are also deep-fried versions of yong tao fu such as Pop Pop Chui (卜卜脆, RM1.20), Prawn Roll (虾卷, RM1.80) and Sui Kau (水饺, RM1.60). Overall, the fish paste is quite delectable. I attribute this to the fine balance between mackerel's springiness and pork's savoriness.
For something more staple as a proper meal, it would appear injustice not to have some Hakka Mee (客家面, RM4.00) in a Hakka-themed restaurant. The noodles are topped with stewed minced pork (卤肉), giving them balanced flavor when mixed thoroughly.
Yam Abacus (客家算盘子, RM8.90) is one of the most iconic dishes in Hakka cuisine; the other being Lei Cha (擂茶) which is not available here yet. The former is made from yam and tapioca, which are boiled and mashed up, then made into bead shapes similar to those of an abacus. The starchy, chewy pieces are cooked with dried shrimps and mushrooms for added flavor.
The claypot of Braised Pork's Trotter (招牌焖猪脚, RM10.00) is heavenly indeed. Drawing intense flavoring from the thick gravy during the stewing process, the pork is saturated with irresistibly succulent flavors that permeate the flesh at all levels. Upon request, the kitchen is happy to add some rice wine to accentuate the taste, bring its savory flavors to an entirely new level.
As for side orders, Nan Ru Chicken (南乳鸡, RM6.50) and Hakka Fried Pork (客家炸肉, RM6.50) are on the saltier side if eaten directly, so it is best to consume them with rice or noodles.
Note that the meats become noticeably harder as they cool, so it is better to enjoy them while warm while they are at the tenderest.
As for drinks, Loh Han Guo (罗汉果, RM1.80) is boiled in-house and is served in an unusually large mug. Sweetness is toned down to allow the drink to present its natural sweetness. The large portion and peculiar serving method make this drink feel more like tong sui (糖水). Not that I am complaining!
Finally for desserts, Mango Frozie (芒果冰, RM6.50) is made from shaved ice topped with diced ripe mango. Personally, I feel that the dessert choices at Tofu Village appear detached from the food menu. It would be nice to see several traditional Hakka and Taiwanese desserts like mochi (麻糬) on the menu.
Overall, Tofu Village presents a unique blend of interesting Hakka-style dishes that can easily catch on with the mainstream palate. The pricing is reasonably affordable and comparable to non-air conditioned eateries nearby.
Name: Tofu Village (豆腐村)
Address: 88, Lebuh Gereja, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-251-9512
Business hours: 11:30am-9:30pm
Coordinates: 5.41911 N, 100.33980 E
Directions: Drive along the one-way Church Street (Lebuh Gereja) till nearly the end of the road. Tofu Village is located on the right, exactly at the intersection with Queen Street (Lebuh Queen). Street parking is available at Church Street, Queen Street, Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling) and other nearby roads, but parking space may be limited on weekdays.

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