Tasting the soft, sweet, custardlike curd of freshly made tofu after years of the supermarket variety is like switching from string cheese to hand-pulled mozzarella—in a word, revelatory. Handmade tofu is so delicate that it can’t withstand the rigors of transport, which is why you won’t see it on the shelves of your local market. Its subtle flavor can only be enjoyed by going straight to the source, namely a handful of Boston chefs who have learned to make it themselves.
Tim Cushman of O Ya serves his in the Japanese tradition: in a light soy dashi (stock) with a sprinkling of bonito flakes. Youji Iwakura of the Back Bay’s Uni adds Maine sea-urchin roe when in season—the two melt together on the tongue, the sweet tofu tempering the sea urchin’s briny aroma.