At first she asked us what had we wanted. Not knowing much of Taiwan food, we just said that anything is fine.
The food came and we were all eating - the food were quite delicious. Then, somehow, the conversation steered to smelly tofu.
"Do they serve smelly tofu?" my friend asks?
"You want? I didn't dare order..." our new friend mentions.
"Yes, yes, had it last time - very good!"
"Oh, wow... wow, you know how to eat smelly tofu? Ok, ok, I'll order" (big smile).
So, off did she ordered for us the smelly tofu.
I didn't know what to expect. I've never tried it before and though I might have seen it before, but not upclose - and definitely I didn't remember the smell!
Really So Smelly!
So, it came... yes, the smelly tofu was served! It was steam smelly tofu and from afar (it was a big round table), I could get the smell/ odor of it.
No offence to any Taiwanese, but it smelled like from the drain. It really smelled stinky!
Anyway, adventurous as I am, I gave it a try - and managed to swallow a small spoon of it. Afterall, our Taiwanese friends mentioned that it tastes very different from the smell - and showing me the thumbs up!
I really couldn't take it. But I managed to gulped that down. And my friend who ordered it gave it a pass though did try to eat it!
Our Taiwanese friends were laughing all the way. For us, we didn't dare want to turn the smelly tofu back to us (it was a round table). Our friends kept saying what a waste that we didn't know how to savour such a delicious dish... and they ate the plate clean!
Not So Smelly Version
Then, a few days later, I encountered the street stall selling - what else, smelly tofu. This time round, the tofu was cooked differently - it was fried. Our friend mentioned that this could be better as the smell is less strong.
Again, being adventurous, I went to purchase a packet of them. My reasoning - I'm here in Taiwan, and must try their 'national food'. And if the fried ones are just as smelly, I could always pass them to my Taiwanese friends who would be ready to finish them.
This set of deep fried smelly tofu came rather different as they are served with pickles. That helps reduce the smell. Also, it being deep fried, it wasn't that smelly. I could stand so close to the cart without running away! haha.
And I managed to eat a few of them. Actually, I could eat all the fried smelly tofu, but I know that my Taiwanese friends love it and shared it with them. Though I still don't know the craze behind these fermented tofu.
Btw, smelly tofu is really one of Taiwan's famous dish. It is so apparent everywhere from high end restaurants and can be seen as a street food in many push carts or vendors - selling both in the day & night. And they are usually crowded! There definitely is some special tofu recipes in them to draw such crowds!
My suggestion if you are in Taiwan: try the deep fried ones first before going for the steamed ones. But who knows, you may fall in love with them - it really is an acquired taste just like the other 'smelly' food that we all love! :)
Food & more food coming up next!