The ultimate comfort food in Vietnam? Fried tofu. And VN Tofu Food To Go, a new shop on South Boulevard, just might make you a fan.
Behind the counter youll often find Ninh Dang. He came to America as a 10-year-old in 1995 after his father served time in a Communist re-education camp. The family had sided with the U.S. during the Vietnam War.
We were poor, just ate the crops we grew, meat only on special holidays, Ninh, 27, recalls. Tofu was a daily dish, made from soybeans, high in protein. Here in Charlotte, we couldnt find tofu we liked. So we started making our own.
Ninh and his older brother Cong run the shop, a mini-factory that mostly sells to Vietnamese restaurants and groceries. They buy soybeans directly from a local farmer, Baucom Farm & Milling in Monroe.
Behind a beaded curtain, glistening stainless steel machines whir and bubble. Soy beans are soaked, then boiled, then compressed to create basic white tofu. Next comes flavoring mushrooms, pepper flakes and lemongrass are some favorites. Then frying to a light golden color, chewy on the outside and creamy inside.
You can buy it by the piece. Or the Dang family will make up dishes to go. A picture menu shows vegetarian versions of familiar Vietnamese entrées: stir-fries, curries, tom-yum soup, fried rice. Yellow pancake, a thin and crispy crepe stuffed with vegetables and fried tofu, is a stand-out.
One dish that many American diners may not have encountered is tofu pudding. The delicate dessert is topped with house-made ginger sauce a sweet, silky treat.
VN TOFU FOOD TO GO
Hours: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, except closed Thursdays
Where: 6823-A South Blvd. (between Archdale Drive and East Arrowood Road)
Tom Hanchett is staff historian at Levine Museum of the New South: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dont miss the Food From Home section of the museums "Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers" exhibit.
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