By Heather Hamilton and Daniel Jackson
Tofu doesn’t have the best rep. in the meat lovers community, and even in the vegetarian community it has a hit-or-miss sort of stigma attached to it. However, tofu is one of the most widely used meat substitutes used in vegetarian or vegan dishes.
TNL, wanting to review a vegetarian meal, decided to focus on tofu dishes in Anchorage Food Quest Part 3. What TNL looked for in the tofu dishes was the flavor of the tofu itself, how the tofu factored into the overall meal, and the overall taste of the dish. Each dish sampled was either vegan, or can be made vegan friendly.
Spenard Roadhouse – Black Bean Burger: There are no regular menu items at Spenard Roadhouse that utilize tofu however, any burger served at the restaurant can have a tofu substitute. The black bean burger (with tofu instead of black beans) possessed a fantastic blend of flavors. Of the two tofu options (blackened and marinated), the marinated offered light flavor that meshed beautifully with the vegetables of the burger. The tofu’s texture was also favorable, having just enough firmness to hold together. The burger also came with a choice of tots or french fries.
Snow City Cafe – Tofu Scramble: By far, the most amazing tofu sampled can be found at Snow City Cafe. The scramble can be served either with or without eggs, but doesn’t need the eggs to make the meal. the tofu is the best part of the entire scramble; the onions, eggs and green pepper bits are tasteless by comparison. However, because the tofu is so perfect (and because the scramble comes with a generous helping of hash browns) TNL ranks the scramble at 2nd, despite the average quality of the rest of the meal.
Bear Tooth – Turnagain Tofu Burrito: This vegan burrito sports a fun mix of veggies, black bean salsa, rice, toasted pepitas and colorado sauce. In addition to the tofu. While this fun Mexican-esque dish was good, the tofu was a little bland. It wasn’t quite as filling as either the Scramble or the burger from Spenard as well. So while it’s good for a small lunch while taching a flick, it isn’t the best bang for your buck if you’re looking for a meal. What really turned TNL off however, was a nutty aftertaste caused by the pepitas. Some may like the flavor, but the out-of-place feeling of the taste is what landed the TTB a firm 3rd.
Organic Oasis – Stir-fry Organic Teriyaki Tofu: While this dish was a treat to sample, the tofu seems added as an afterthought. It sits atop a beautiful display of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and rice, but has no flavor or marinade of its own to add to the dish. The teriyaki sauce glazed over the dish is a bit too sweet as well, but otherwise definitely tasty.
Middle Way Cafe – Tofu Stacker: Like the Organic Oasis stir-fry, the tofu in the stacker tastes and looks to be tacked on at the last minute. The blackened tofu rests on a massive stack of shredded beats, carrots, zucchinis, home fries, leeks and is bathed in ranchero sauce. While the loose vegetable patty has a pleasant taste, the ranchero sauce is too spicy for the dish; it hides the other, more appealing flavors completely. The tofu is also very bland, offering nothing but filler, and even then, only slightly. Try it if you like a little kick with your shredded veggies, but avoid it otherwise.