One of the things I love about J-town is San Jose Tofu. This is a small (if there are more than three customers someone has to stand outside), unpretentious shop with one goal—making fresh tofu daily. The difference between today’s fresh tofu and the stuff everyone buys in the plastic tubs is the difference between a fresh-picked, vine-ripe tomato and what you get at the supermarket, technically the same, but not.
Our favorite restaurant, Gombei, is right next door and you know where they get the tofu for their Cold Tofu sidedish. The following is my attempt to replicate something close to their dish.
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. Mirin
1 tsp. sugar
Pinch HonDashi (dried bonito and kelp soup base)
1 block of fresh tofu
1 Tbs. bonito shavings
1 green onion, cut on the bias
1 container of seaweed salad (optional)
1. Place the first 4 ingredients in a plastic bag and mix until the HonDashi has dissolved.
2. Place the block of tofu in the bag and squeeze the air out and seal the bag. Marinate the tofu for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
3. Remove the tofu to a plate and score the block with a knife in a ½ inch crosshatch. You want to end up with vertical square bars of tofu, but you also want to be careful not to cut all the way through so that they are still connected at the bottom of the block. This keeps the individual pieces from falling all over the place.
4. Garnish the tofu with the bonito shavings and slivers of green onion.
5. I also garnish around the base of the tofu with a band of seaweed salad. That is not very Gombei, but we like it.