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Last Call: I love you, mapo tofu

Illustration for article titled Last Call: I love you, mapo tofu
Photo: bonchan (iStock)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

I’ve been back in Chicago this week to visit The Takeout global headquarters, a trip I’ve been looking forward to and fretting over because there are never enough hours in the day when I visit Chicago. I need to eat all the things, see all the people, and did I mention eat all the things?

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Dongpo Impression
Dongpo Impression
Photo: Kate Bernot

I had a number of stellar meals and beers and cocktails while I’ve been in town, but one culinary mission I had was to take the water taxi down to Chinatown for some mapo tofu. I first fell in love with mapo tofu when I first had it at Lao Sze Chuan; this time, my friends and I tried out Dongpo Impression, a Szechuan place I hadn’t yet been to.

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Oh mapo tofu. I didn’t even care what else my friends ordered—we shared a giant feast—I just need my tofu fix. I like tofu in other applications, but something about the combination of numbing Szechuan peppercorn broth and silky, yielding tofu squares makes my heart happy. It also makes me sweat a little, but I think that’s just the endorphins.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

archaeopterixmajorus
Archaeyopterix Majorus

Kate, can you suggest a few places for me in Chicago Chinatown to get great, authentic dim-sum? I’m not one who likes spicy food, my most adventurous would be a 2 pad thai on a 1-5 schedule, and 1-3 or 1-4 I’m always 1. I DO enjoy a balanced, sour, face warming hot and sour soup. I like dipping my fried squid rings in sweet chili sauce. But I can’t take face-red, palate-numb, dripping sweat so much your hair is WET spice. I also like Chinese/Asian spicy better than Mexican spicy, it seems more subtle and grows with eating, similarly wanes with a break to eat something else on the table before going back...

Anyway, all that said, I am going soon and I want to have some excellent dim sum. I also, guiltily, wouldn’t mind suggestions for best eggrolls (hand rolled, peppery, stuffed with fluffy cabbage and little bits of pork), or (I know, not ‘real’) General Tso’s. The best I ever had was in college, place closed, but it was a dark, dark burgundy, thick sauce with scallions, rich with garlic, tangy, spicy, sweet, even a little bitter. That Tso’s was So great, I still remember it so fondly, it was amazing with broccoli. Now a days, and in my smaller Fort Wayne (not Indy or Chicago) all the Tso’s is translucent/syrupy and just sweet, mostly, with maybe plum sauce fleeting flavor, and a touch of heat - boring!