The Re-Education of Tofu w/Hodo Soy Beanery: How One Tofu Master is Trying to Change the American Palette

Our VideosBy Liza de Guia on Jan 12, 2011
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“I think a lot of Asian restaurants actually cook with not the best quality tofu. The reason for that is, people don’t understand tofu and therefore are not willing to pay the premium for it.”

Meet Minh Tsai, the founder & tofu master behind Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland, California. Minh is a self-titled “Tofu Ambassador”, a man on a mission to re-educate Americans on the taste and texture of real, authentic, traditional tofu from Asia – not the chalky, tasteless tofu many of us are accustomed to (people like myself).

When I traveled to San Francisco a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Hodo Soy through a food loving friend of mine. I was excited because I never actually stopped to think and wonder about how tofu was made. I, like many, just ate what was either served to me or ate what was shelved at my local Korean market. For me, tofu was a nice “filler”. A nice break between meat & seafood when I didn’t just want straight-up vegetables. And tofu, to me, was mostly tasteless, a product made better through either deep-frying, dipping or heavily saucing. But, Minh taught me differently.

Hodo has much meaning in its name. In Chinese, it’s interpreted to mean “good bean”, a philosophy about being good to the entire supply chain, from where you source your product all the way to the end customer. Hodo Soy uses organic, non-GMO soy beans from a 4th-generation soy grower out in Dakota, Illinois. According to Minh, when you use the highest quality product and their artisan/science-focused technique you can only produce really great tofu – tofu that tastes creamy and milky, a taste so present that it can stand alone and be appreciated without any added flavor.

So enjoy my story and tour of Hodo Soy Beanery. Their mission to re-educate American palettes will take some time, and Minh Tsai knows this is only the beginning… “We want people to try it and recognize that it tastes so good that they’re willing to pay an extra 25¢ just to eat it, and we’re making traction that way.”

To try Hodo Soy’s artisan tofu products, you can find them in farmers markets, popular restaurants and in select grocery stores around the San Francisco Bay area. They sell tofu, soymilk, fresh yuba, prepared salads, spiced tofu nuggets and more. And if you can get your hands on their uber-ly delicious curry nuggets, don’t think twice, just buy them. Trust me. (And be on the lookout EAST COAST FOOD LOVERS, Hodo Soy may be coming our way in the not-so-distant future!)

Thanks for watching food. curated. Happy Eating!

Comments

  1. Debbie says:

    Love your videos….you do a great job.

  2. Debbie says:

    Love your videos….you do a great job.

  3. Mike says:

    Have enjoyed all the pieces you’ve produced. Thanks for your service to these artisan food/bread makers – the videos inspire us! Especially enjoy seeing people fulfilling their dreams.

    I love tofu and appreciate learning about Hodo Soy Beanery; I’ll look for it here in Honolulu.

    Did you and Ben consider including presenting some luscious examples of finished, cooked product, in the video? You have a fabulous way of making food look utterly delectable; showing people how tofu can be cooked would have been a wonderful addition to your video!

    Thanks for posting and doing such wonderful work.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hey Mike! Thanks soooo much. Great idea. I may just have to do that. Unfortunately, all of their product is based out in California. I’ll see if I can find some local artisan tofu here in NYC…

      Thanks for the advice. Also…who is Ben that you talk about?

  4. Mike says:

    Have enjoyed all the pieces you’ve produced. Thanks for your service to these artisan food/bread makers – the videos inspire us! Especially enjoy seeing people fulfilling their dreams.

    I love tofu and appreciate learning about Hodo Soy Beanery; I’ll look for it here in Honolulu.

    Did you and Ben consider including presenting some luscious examples of finished, cooked product, in the video? You have a fabulous way of making food look utterly delectable; showing people how tofu can be cooked would have been a wonderful addition to your video!

    Thanks for posting and doing such wonderful work.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hey Mike! Thanks soooo much. Great idea. I may just have to do that. Unfortunately, all of their product is based out in California. I’ll see if I can find some local artisan tofu here in NYC…

      Thanks for the advice. Also…who is Ben that you talk about?

  5. Liz says:

    That tofu looks amazing, especially the yuba. I love how it must be made by hand. Really beautiful.

    Looking forward to an east coast outlet of Hodo.

    Nice work, as always, Liza!

  6. Liz says:

    That tofu looks amazing, especially the yuba. I love how it must be made by hand. Really beautiful.

    Looking forward to an east coast outlet of Hodo.

    Nice work, as always, Liza!

  7. Anita says:

    What an amazing company. I hope that we will have their fresh organic yuba in NYC soon!

  8. Anita says:

    What an amazing company. I hope that we will have their fresh organic yuba in NYC soon!

  9. Deborah says:

    Liza,

    It was a pleasure meeting you during your visit to Hodo Soy. We love the way the story turned out!

    Having grown up in SF as a first generation Chinese American, I grew up eating tofu but it didn’t occur to me that it was a delicious tasting food until I traveled to Taiwan over 25 years ago where friends of my parents took me to a sidewalk vendor in Taipei where I had a bowl of freshly pressed soy milk and silken tofu with soy sauce, sesame oil and scallions. Tasting Hodo Soy’s soymilk, tofu and yuba for the first time a couple of years ago brought back that food memory for me.

  10. Deborah says:

    Liza,

    It was a pleasure meeting you during your visit to Hodo Soy. We love the way the story turned out!

    Having grown up in SF as a first generation Chinese American, I grew up eating tofu but it didn’t occur to me that it was a delicious tasting food until I traveled to Taiwan over 25 years ago where friends of my parents took me to a sidewalk vendor in Taipei where I had a bowl of freshly pressed soy milk and silken tofu with soy sauce, sesame oil and scallions. Tasting Hodo Soy’s soymilk, tofu and yuba for the first time a couple of years ago brought back that food memory for me.

  11. Clarence says:

    Awesome job! Minh’s a good friend of mine and I remember when he was just starting the company up. You captured both his passion and “can do” personality. Also, the tofu looks delicious – which it is. All you people in the Bay Area, Hodo Soy is the real deal! Solid work.

  12. Clarence says:

    Awesome job! Minh’s a good friend of mine and I remember when he was just starting the company up. You captured both his passion and “can do” personality. Also, the tofu looks delicious – which it is. All you people in the Bay Area, Hodo Soy is the real deal! Solid work.

  13. vik ceni says:

    “really guessed i‚Äö√Ñ√¥d distribute and let you know your personal weblogs is useful for found the beneficial remedy.I honestly appreciate your weblog.In the correct way, the posting is in actuality the most successful on this actually value while topic. I concur together with your information and will thirstily appear ahead to your coming tweets. Clearly stating thank you is not going to just be enough, for that incredible lucidity as component of the writing content articles.”

  14. vik ceni says:

    “really guessed i’d distribute and let you know your personal weblogs is useful for found the beneficial remedy.I honestly appreciate your weblog.In the correct way, the posting is in actuality the most successful on this actually value while topic. I concur together with your information and will thirstily appear ahead to your coming tweets. Clearly stating thank you is not going to just be enough, for that incredible lucidity as component of the writing content articles.”

  15. Minh Tsai says:

    Liza,
    Your wonderful video demystifies tofu, and supports our quest to continue to educate the mass about this delicious plant food with more than three thousand years of history. I am confident it is only a matter of time (shot time I hope) that we will be East Coast bound. Keep up the great work!

  16. Minh Tsai says:

    Liza,
    Your wonderful video demystifies tofu, and supports our quest to continue to educate the mass about this delicious plant food with more than three thousand years of history. I am confident it is only a matter of time (shot time I hope) that we will be East Coast bound. Keep up the great work!

  17. Ulla says:

    Can not wait to see where it will be sold on the east coast. What an inspiring story! I love, love tofu.

  18. Ulla says:

    Can not wait to see where it will be sold on the east coast. What an inspiring story! I love, love tofu.

  19. Dominica says:

    Usually I know a little about the process of making something, but with tofu, this was all new and very interesting. He even had me looking up a few words!

    Another great video from you. I look forward to the next one.

    Dee

  20. Dominica says:

    Usually I know a little about the process of making something, but with tofu, this was all new and very interesting. He even had me looking up a few words!

    Another great video from you. I look forward to the next one.

    Dee

  21. Sam Weinreb says:

    Welcome to the world of tofu making in the United States,at least to the regionally made Non Genetically Modified, Organic and/or biodynamic tofu,soymilk,tempeh,miso,yuba,shoya,soy sprouts,textured soy protein,(TVP),whole dry soybeans,roasted full-fat soy flour(kinako),fresh green soybeans,soy nuts,and natto.I have been making and distributing tofu and other soyfoods for 30 years in the Northeast.I have been aided and inspired by the numerous works of William Shirtleff and Akiko Aoyagi,Their Soyfoods Center as an source of information and their basic goal to eliminate world hunger is one i share SO WELCOME

  22. Sam Weinreb says:

    Welcome to the world of tofu making in the United States,at least to the regionally made Non Genetically Modified, Organic and/or biodynamic tofu,soymilk,tempeh,miso,yuba,shoya,soy sprouts,textured soy protein,(TVP),whole dry soybeans,roasted full-fat soy flour(kinako),fresh green soybeans,soy nuts,and natto.I have been making and distributing tofu and other soyfoods for 30 years in the Northeast.I have been aided and inspired by the numerous works of William Shirtleff and Akiko Aoyagi,Their Soyfoods Center as an source of information and their basic goal to eliminate world hunger is one i share SO WELCOME

  23. Alisa says:

    Great video. I love tofu and it’s wonderful to know how its made!

  24. Alisa says:

    Great video. I love tofu and it’s wonderful to know how its made!

  25. What a fascinating video. I love tofu and I love watching how food is made. This video is a marriage of the two. Can’t wait to try Minh’s tofu, hopefully sooner than later. He is so cute and passionate about it too. Thanks for sharing such a delicious story!

  26. What a fascinating video. I love tofu and I love watching how food is made. This video is a marriage of the two. Can’t wait to try Minh’s tofu, hopefully sooner than later. He is so cute and passionate about it too. Thanks for sharing such a delicious story!

  27. Olivia Lane says:

    Great profile! I like that he uses American soy beans. One of the things that makes me feel like a jerk about eating soy (and keeps me from eating it very often) is that it usually comes from so far away. I actually tried making my own soy milk because of this. (#FAIL! It’s harder than you’d think.) I totally want to eat Hodo products so I hope a factory comes to NYC soon. Life without a local Hodo already seems incomplete. :-)

  28. Olivia Lane says:

    Great profile! I like that he uses American soy beans. One of the things that makes me feel like a jerk about eating soy (and keeps me from eating it very often) is that it usually comes from so far away. I actually tried making my own soy milk because of this. (#FAIL! It’s harder than you’d think.) I totally want to eat Hodo products so I hope a factory comes to NYC soon. Life without a local Hodo already seems incomplete. :-)

  29. Jannie says:

    Great story! Alas, when I was at the Ferry Terminal building 3 weeks ago, the people manning the Hodo booth were totally unaware of the great video that you made and gave me blank looks when I enquired if it was the same company.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Breaks my heart!! haha. Well, if The Tofu Master himself ever mans that Hodo booth, I’m sure he’ll remember. Thanks for watching Jannie. Glad to have you as a friend/fan. What did you end up trying?

  30. Hello, just wanted to tell you, I liked this post. It was practical. Keep on posting!

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