Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pidan Doufu at I-Tea Cafe - Irvine

A lot of people might find the majority of the ingredients in the dish you see above a little out of the ordinary. If you're one of these folks, stay with me, even if the only thing you recognize is the chopped green onion.

Yes, there is silken tofu, which exists in a white, pristine, Jell-O like cube that wiggles. There is pork sung, those furry brown things that look like the floor after a very shaggy dog gets a trim. And there is perhaps the scariest item of all, a thousand-year-old egg, a chicken ovum that has been buried in ash until its albumen turns coffee black and the yolk a not-of-this-Earth blue.

Together they form pidan doufu, as classic a combination as PB and J, but way better than that. It's served chilled, so it's cooling, almost spine-tinglingly so. It's also refreshing, the kind of snack that you want during a heat wave.

Key to the experience is that weird-wonderful egg--and you savor it and relish it as if it were the last piece of bacon on your BLT. Don't squander even a morsel of it. A perfect spoonful will have every melting piece of soft soy curd paired with little bit of it, some of the sweet brown sauce, a few clumps of that furry stuff, and the scallions for that herby kick at the end.

I've not found a place that doesn't do this well, but I-Tea Cafe was a surprise because:

1) They offered it to begin with since I was operating with the (incorrect) assumption it was just a boba joint.

2) It turned out to be one of the best renditions I've had in a while.

So eat one for yourself and tell me it isn't the best one of these you've had, which, yes, admittedly would be easy to say if you hadn't had it before.

I-Tea Cafe
15435 Jeffrey Rd.
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 551-4832

Taverna Blu - Irvine


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