Naming China Tofu “least Americanized Chinese food” doesn’t mean that you won’t find familiar things to eat there — you’ve probably at least seen ma po tofu, salt-and-pepper spareribs, and sizzling beef before. Nor does it mean that the Taiwanese food the restaurant serves is impossibly spicy, oddly seasoned, or hellishly stinky. (Well, unless you’re talking about the “stinky tofu,” one of its specialties. You and the rest of the clientele will understand how the dish got its name the moment the cooks drop it in the deep fryer.) No, the reason China Tofu isn’t Americanized is that its bilingual menu just wasn’t written with you in mind. The restaurant’s specialty is cheap, home-style Taiwanese food like home-made noodles with pork and preserved vegetables, or house special chicken braised with soy, ginger, and basil — and the lingua franca of the restaurant is Mandarin, with a Taiwanese accent. The Ling brothers, who run China Tofu, also own a tofu factory in Hayward, so the restaurant is a de facto outlet for fresh soy milk, blocks of tofu, hard-to-find tofu noodles, and our favorite, sweet tofu custard.
Little Shin Shin
4258 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-658-9799