Thursday, February 15, 2007

Soy feliz.

For Valentine's Day, my husband took me out to Soycafe, in Silver Lake. It is owned and run by one man. The link shows a photo collage of him making his own tofu, which is a process somewhat similar to making cheese (as I understand it; I've only made pretty simple cheeses like paneer or ricotta). He also makes the soy milk fresh every day.

I didn't have a camera, but the atmosphere was very neat. There is an L-shaped metal bar with stools; the owner stands behind it. We got to chat with him some, because there were only four people in the restaurant. (It's small: I doubt more than about 10 could fit.) There is a fridge where the bottles of fresh soymilk are kept. In the back there is a kitchen, surrounded by hundreds of glass bottles full of ingredients.

There is a large ink drawing hanging on one wall and a large ceramic lotus flower on the shelves. Plus a pocket watch hanging from the ceiling. Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see. My descriptive powers fail when I try to describe it, but if I opened a little restaurant, I'd love to have it look like this.

We had several dishes. We started with fresh soy milk, which was incredible. It was Asian soy milk, so it has a more pure soy flavor than the stuff from a regular grocery store. It was thinner and lighter and fresher than most of the Asian soy milk I've gotten. He also had a coffee drink that involved soy milk that had had cinnamon steeped in it. What a great image: this glass milk bottle full of long sticks of Vietnamese cinnamon and soymilk.

For food, we started with an appetizer that was a lotus seed & brown rice dish. Then we split a Vietnamese sandwich -- Bánh -- made with tofu and mushrooms. They were good. The bread was a very high quality baguette, as I expect from Vietnamese restaurants.

But I was completely blown away by the noodle dish: it is one of the best things I've ever eaten. Seriously. It had shiitake mushrooms, fried garlic,
fresh herbs and rolled yuba (which is made from the skin that forms on the top of the soymilk. I had had it in Japan; we went to a restaurant that specialized in it). The noodles were light but still had a good texture. We split it, but when we go back I'm getting my own and I will growl at anyone who tries to take some.

Then we had dessert, which was tofu in its own whey (left over from making the tofu) with candied ginger and ginger syrup. Served warm. It is taking all my strength of will (and some of the husband's) to resist going back there tonight.
(The lovely picture is from here.)

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