frobzwiththingz: (waffle off)
So, Ma Po Tofu just happens to be one of my favorite Szechuan dishes. Wonderfully savory, fragrant, and solidly spicy all at the same time. It used to be the case that getting a decent dish of Ma Po ToFu was fairly easy to do around here. But over the past decade or so most of the places that served up a version deserving of mention have closed up shop and vanished. There's no shortage of Chinese restaurants in the Boston area, but outside of Mary Chungs, order some Ma Po Tofu and what you'll probably end up with is this disappointing imposter made with a wimpy boring brown sauce very much like you see on just about everything served at those American/Polynesian style "chinese" restaurants. You know the ones i'm talking about. They have a menu full of alcoholic drinks with names like "Suffering Bastard" served in large fancy tiki-head bowls with umbrellas. And, i hate to say it, but even Marys seems to have toned down their version to the standard Western palate, and it just doesn't have the kick and pizazz it used to. Sigh.

Theres a new chinese/japanese restaurant where i live, called Karma. It's a very good place. Good sushi, nice Bento-box lunches, excellent Eggplant in Garlic Sauce. In fact, the Eggplant in Garlic Sauce was good enough that i decided to give their Ma Po Tofu a shot. It arrived. Bland, Bland, Bland. No black bean essence at all. Boring. Oh well. BZZZT. Thanks for playing. Crap.

Every once in a while i get a bee in my bonnet to reverse-engineer some food i really like but can only get in ethnic restaurants. I then spend the next several months working on it until satisfied. It was clearly time to attack this one.

It's now a month later. Sorry, Marys; i don't need you any more...

[2010-03-28 Edit: I've recently been made aware of this place; _Fu Loon_ in Malden Square, Malden, Ma. Their MaPoTofu has been discussed on ChowHound as being the real thing. I went there today, and tried it. It is indeed the real deal. I'd order it again when i eventually go back. They have a lot of rarely seen authentic Cantonese and Szechuan stuff on their menu, in addition to the more usually seen fare. Which they also do well; their General Gaus' is the best i've ever had. The MaPoToFu is not actually listed in the menu, you need to just ask for it. So it *is* possible to obtain good MaPoToFu in at least 1 chinese restaurant in the greater Boston area. However, in my not so humble opinion, what you will get if you follow the procedure below is superior.]

Frobzwiththingzs' Ma Po Tofu Recipe )

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