Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Best Tofu Dishes in Memphis

When I went vegan in 2004, Memphis wasn't the most vegan-friendly city. I found a few things on menus here and there, but I did most of my cooking at home. And honestly, I still do, but not for lack of dining options. I cook at home to save money and eat a little healthier, but when I want to dine out these days, I have sooooo many options here. Those options range from classic comfort fare at Imagine Vegan Cafe to raw dishes at 2 Vegan Sistas to realistic mock meats from New Hong Kong to uber-healthy whole food-based meals at City Silo. 

But when I'm craving tofu specifically, I know just where to go! Here are my top eight picks for the Best Tofu Dishes in Memphis.

1) Blue Nile/Stick 'Em
The award for Very Best Tofu in Memphis jointly goes to Blue Nile and Stick 'Em. Blue Nile is an Ethiopian restaurant, and Stick 'Em is a kabob food truck, but both are owned by the same couple. And both serve the most amazing, chewy, seasoned fried tofu on a stick. I'm not sure what they use to season the tofu, but the flavor is unlike anything I've had before. It's a savory flavor that's very different from the taste of the traditional fried tofu you'd find in an Asian restaurant. In the restaurant, the Tofu Skewers come with white rice and sauteed veggies as an entree.

And on the truck, you get the option of a side of sauteed veggies, French fries, or a salad. I usually go with the latter. You can also order single kabobs in both places.

2) Pho Binh
This beloved Midtown Memphis institution has a legendary lunch buffet with several varieties of fried tofu — usually lemongrass tofu (THE BEST), green bean tofu, and curry tofu (but sometimes, they mix it up and include black bean tofu). Vegetarians and meat-eaters gather here for the tofu. It's the best thing there, no question. Pho Binh even sells tee-shirts that say "Memphis-style tofu." I have one! The best part? The all-you-can-eat buffet is under $9. The Mushroom Tofu is pictured here, but it's rarely on the buffet. Got to order off the menu for that! But real talk — the Lemongrass Tofu is greatest thing they serve.

3) Brother Juniper's
There are a handful of places offering tofu scramble for brunch, but Brother Juniper's has the best. The Fahim's Special (not on the menu, but ask for it) comes with roasted red peppers, portabella mushrooms, onions, and a special sauce. And you get a TON of it. Comes with amazing home fries and homemade toasted bread with made-in-house fruit preserves.

4) Zaka Bowl
Obviously, fried tofu is my favorite thing. But sometimes, you want something a little healthier, and Zaka Bowl has you covered. This totally vegan eatery serves chewy, savory baked tofu cubes in their build-your-own bowls. They're clearly marinated in a soy sauce base, but there are some other awesome flavors in there that I just can't put my finger on. You can't really see much tofu in this bowl because it's covered in vegetables. But trust me — it's there. Pro tip: Order your bowl with double tofu!

5) Deja Vu 
This downtown Cajun restaurant has a LOT of meat on the menu, but they also have a separate vegan menu. And they don't use any meat/dairy in their veggie sides. They also boast some of the yummiest, sauciest fried tofu. You can order the cubes with either curry sauce (pictured here), BBQ sauce, or teriyaki sauce. I love the curry!

6) RP Tracks
Home of BBQ Tofu Nachos! RP Tracks is locally famous for these nachos, and even non-vegans rave about them. The crispy fried tofu cubes are coated in a sweet BBQ sauce and served atop tortilla chips with black beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and jalapenos.

7) Midtown Crossing Grill
This Crosstown pizza parlor has several vegan options, among them the Bianca Banh Mi (named after yours truly!). Thin slabs of tofu are marinated in a sweet chili sauce, and they perfectly complement the red bean hummus and homemade pickled veggies on the sandwich. I also like to order this tofu as an add-on to their Greek salad.

8) Evelyn & Olive
I don't really have a good picture of this Jamaican restaurant's Black Bean Tacos, but just trust me that, under all that slaw, is a yummy tofu and black bean mixture. The tofu is crumbled and sauteed with Jamaican spices. Topped with slaw and kiwi salsa and served with a side of pigeon peas and rice.


Hillary said...

That's so great that there are so many places that are vegan, or have vegan options! It all looks so great, I have a very special place in my heart for lemongrass tofu!!
I always love the sound of the Bianca Banh mi too!

House Vegan said...

Aw, I went vegan in 2004 too! ATX wasn't the vegan wonderland it is now. The most vegan-friendly restaurant I knew used vegan rella which was my first taste of vegan cheese. I took me a looooong time to try vegan cheese again haha