Tofu, Cincinnati style

Last Friday while visiting friends in Cincinnati, Ohio, I had two quite different tofu dishes.

Mohrlein Lager House’s Crispy Balsamic Tofu: unfortunately, not as tasty as it looks.

For lunch, we headed downtown where the first stage of a lovely riverfront park just opened near the Reds’ baseball stadium. Even though it was only 11 am when we arrived at the Moerlein Lager House, I ordered their Hefeweizen, which turned out to be a great choice; it reminded me a lot of Madison’s own Crop Circle Wheat from The Great Dane. J ended up ordering the same beer after he tasted a couple others (including their IPA) and found them to be blandly underwhelming. For my meal, I was pleasantly surprised to see tofu on the menu, so I happily ordered it. The Crispy Balsamic Tofu featured “spinach basil risotto with roasted tomatoes, cipolline onions, wild mushrooms and Parmesan topped with shaved asparagus and preserved lemon salad.” Alas, despite making for an attractive plate, the dish was (like J’s beer samples) blandly underwhelming, except for the balsamic treatment which our friend (who ordered it as well) found nearly overpowering. At $16, it was a filling disappointment.

Dinner, on the hand, was a whole ‘nother story.

Suzie Wong’s bibimbap with tofu, hold the fried egg; the egg makes for a prettier presentation, but there was no indication that it was anything other than factory farmed, so I declined. I was a bibimbap virgin, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to, but I thought it was absolutely delicious!

We headed to the pan-Asian Suzie Wong’s Asian Eats later in the day, where I had my first experience of bibimbap, that Korean rice-and-veggies-and-sauce dish. It was fan-frickin’-tastic! Served in a hot clay pot with a side of yummy chili sauce to dump on top (see photo) before mixing and eating, this was soooo tasty. The pot works its special magic by crisping the rice at the bottom, such that I found it nearly impossible to stop eating (“I see more crunchy rice!”) even though I was completely stuffed. At $11.95, it was a filling delight!

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