Stinky Tofu 101: Is Manila Ready For Stinky Tofu?


Yup, you read that right. There’s such a thing as Stinky Tofu. And no, the name’s not a play on words. There’s no witty or funny story behind it either. It’s called Stinky Tofu because, well, it really does smell bad.

But what is Stinky Tofu exactly?

You might’ve never heard of it before but Stinky Tofu is actually a popular snack you can find in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Commonly sold along the streets or in markets, Stinky Tofu is usually deep-fried but can also be steamed or even eaten cold. Pair it with the chili sauce it’s typically served with and you’re good to go!

Chinese Stinky Tofu

Chinese Stinky Tofu

Now you might be wondering who in his right mind would create a dish this offensive to the nose. Well, legend has it that a hawker during the Qing Dynasty completely forgot that he had some tofu stewing. A season passed and when the hawker finally remembered, he was surprised that his long forgotten tofu actually tasted really good!

So why does it stink?

The tofu used in this dish is not your average supermarket tofu. The secret behind the smell lies in the fermentation process, which makes use of a brine made up of fermented milk, vegetables, meat, and other aromatics such as herbs and bamboo shoots.

Traditionally, fermenting the tofu takes a couple of days or even a week. These days, however, the commercial process normally just takes one to two days.

How stinky is Stinky Tofu?

Comparisons range from smelly feet and body odor to rotten garbage and decaying meat. But take note, many have said that the stinkier it is, the better because it guarantees a more flavorful Stinky Tofu!

It might be pretty hard to imagine but here’s a video to give you a better idea!

Where to find Stinky Tofu in Manila

Words and a video can only do so much and nothing beats tasting the actual thing. It may not be surprising that Stinky Tofu is a rare dish to find here in Manila but it’s not altogether impossible to find. So whether you want to try it again after tasting it abroad or you’re simply curious and you own an adventurous stomach, here are the places where you can find Stinky Tofu here in the metro!

1. Fat Fook Taiwanese Kitchen

Keeping up with tradition, Fat Fook’s take on Stinky Tofu is served fried! The Fried Stinky Tofu comes with a sweet and salty soy sauce and it’s highly recommended that you dip the tofu in it first before popping it into your mouth!

Fat Fook Manila's Stinky Tofu

Photo from Brie K.’s looloo review for Fat Fook

So how stinky is this particular Stinky Tofu? “I believe “stinky” is an understatement to describe the malodorousness this dish barrels,” says Rocky R.’s looloo review. “With an acquired taste, there’s a certainty one will grow to like, even love stinky tofu. I sure did!

Mark L.’s looloo review provides a tip on how to get through eating this dish: “This is my first time to try this food and it’s not bad at all. Just don’t breathe heavily when you eat it so you won’t smell the fermented tofu.”

Fat Fook Taiwanese Kitchen is located at G/F Main Building, SM City North EDSA, EDSA corner North Avenue, Quezon City.

2. Tien Ma’s

For those who find themselves in Quezon City or Makati, Tien Ma’s also serves Stinky Tofu! Cut into triangles, Tien Ma’s Deep Fried Stinky Tofu is likewise an “acquired taste” according to Timmy T.’s looloo review. Despite the smell, Myzyl C. counts it as one of Tien Ma’s dishes she loves in her looloo review.

Tien Ma’s has branches in Retiro and Libis, Quezon City, and Bel-Air, Makati.

3. Taipei Taipei

Taipei Taipei's Stinky Tofu

Photo from Dennis O.’s looloo review for Taipei Taipei

Dennis O. calls trying Taipei Taipei’s Fried Stinky Tofu “an adventure” in his looloo review. But fair warning to those who have really sensitive noses, he also says that “this stinky tofu is much smellier than the one I tried in China.” Whoa! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Try it out and you be the judge!

Taipei Taipei is located at Scout Gandia Street, Quezon City.

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About Author

Bella Javier

Bella is a lover of all things sweet, a multi-time winner of the timeless children’s party and icebreaker game, Name That Tune, and a self-proclaimed queen of wishful thinking. A wanderer whose hunger lasts 24/7 and a proud owner of an oldies playlist mixed with songs she can sing fluently but does not understand, she’ll choose neither Edward or Jacob when asked that same old question.