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Loving...and hating...stinky tofu: Taiwanese vs. Foreigner perspectives--Liang Po Po Stinky Tofu, Du Chou Zhe Jia, Hualien Ruisui Stinky Tofu

Translated by Angela Cheng

If there's one food in Taiwan that elicits very strong, polarizing opinions, it's stinky tofu. To demonstrate varying attitudes towards this much-loved, and despised, dish, Compass Magazine dispatched two writers, American Daniel White and Taiwanese Cheryl Huang, to some top local stinky tofu eateries. See their interesting, and very different, responses below.

Liang Po Po Stinky TofuLiang Po Po Stinky Tofu

(04) 2305-1198
312, MeiCun Rd, Sec 1, West Dist.
Hours: 4-11:30 pm (closed Tue.)
Credit crads accepted.

Liang Po Po Stinky Tofu Cheryl's perspective: "I love stinky tofu! The person who invented stinky tofu is a real genius!"
Though Liang Po Po Stinky Tofu is 59 years old, the boss has carefully developed a variety of stinky tofu dishes that allows diners to experience different tastes. I personally prefer the Traditional Fried Stinky Tofu (NT$50) and like the crispy, savory and soft tofu here, served with a rich garlic sauce, fresh cucumbers and slightly sour Taiwanese pickles. Although it's a fried dish, it provides a refreshing flavor and there's also a "pure veggie" tofu [Ed. Note: Buddhists consider garlic, scallions and leeks non-vegetarian] offered here. --By Cheryl Huang

Liang Po Po Stinky Tofu

Daniel's perspective: "I can't help but wonder what genius thought it would be a good idea to eat rotten food."
My mother always told me that if I couldn't say anything nice then I shouldn't say anything at all. But when asked to comment on the worst food I've ever eaten, it's very difficult to say anything nice. Its texture was palatable, the color wasn't repulsive, and the restaurant certainly had pleasant decor. When it comes to the taste, however, it was so bad that there is no way to give an accurate description without causing you mild to severe discomfort, possibly spoiling your appetite for hours. --By Daniel White


Du Chou Zhe JiaDu Chou Zhe Jia

(04) 2203-9010
167, WuChang St, North Dist.
Hours: 11 am-1:30 pm, 5-8 pm
(occasionally closed)

Du Chou Zhe Jia Cheryl's perspective: "The fried stinky tofu sprinkled with pepper salt here has a unique flavor!"
Du Chou Zhe Jia is a small corner store featuring "pure veggie" stinky tofu dishes. Fried Stinky Tofu (NT$50) is an unusually long, strip-like shape and uses grated radishes instead of garlic to maintain its pure-vegetarian state, and is sprinkled with a bit of pepper for more flavor. This place also sells uncooked stinky tofu to go (NT$20/piece) so, if you want to try cooking stinky tofu at home, this is a good place to purchase the basic ingredients. --By Cheryl Huang
Du Chou Zhe Jia

Daniel's perspective: "No amount of seasoning or condiments can save this dish."
The tofu here was much less stinky, and the aftertaste faded after a half hour or so. This place, packed even in the middle of the afternoon, is the lesser of three evils. They also offer three portion sizes here, with the small size (NT$40) being mercifully smaller than the other locations. If you don't like stinky tofu, you will still dislike it here, but if you absolutely must eat it (perhaps because you lost a bet), this is the place to go. --By Daniel White


Hualien Ruisui Stinky TofuHualien Ruisui Stinky Tofu

(04) 2211-3042
151, ZiYou Rd, Sec 3, East Dist.
Hours: 2-7 pm (closed Tue.)

Hualien Ruisui Stinky Tofu Cheryl's perspective: "The smell of the stinky tofu here is really satisfying!"
Although Ruisui Stinky Tofu looks like a common Taiwanese traditional street vendor without many decorations, crowds flock to it. The owners stress they use only natural ingredients without preservatives to prepare the dishes here, selling just fried stinky tofu in big or small portions, with the smallest portion being four pieces (NT$40). I personally think that the sauce is absolutely important to making stinky tofu flavorful. Besides the basic stinky-tofu extras like grated garlic, soy sauce and Taiwanese pickles, this vendor's homemade spicy chili bean sauce is perfect with this dish. Free hot soup and black tea are also offered. --By Cheryl Huang
Hualien Ruisui Stinky Tofu

Daniel's perspective: "I've smelled some things in my day, but stinky tofu is somewhere between baby poop and sulfur."
The only thing worse than eating stinky tofu is having to eat it in a small room with all the doors closed. This place has a table outside but it was taken, forcing us to lock ourselves in an air-conditioned chamber of horrifying odors. The NT$40 stinky tofu was potent as well. If you like stinky tofu, Ruisui will allow you to bask in its unique aroma as you relish its unique flavors. --By Daniel White


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