Wu’s Garden, Vienna, VA

I’d been very curious about David Chang’s praise of Wu’s Garden since I read this piece over a year ago. I think I’d been here once before, and had no special memories of the restaurant.

I ordered a dish Chang raved about – Koh Tah Tofu ($11.95), a Shandong dish that’s as simple as it could be: braised tofu, in sauce, with steamed rice on the side.

(Naturally, since I ordered it as carryout, I dumped everything on top of the steamed rice.)

This dish, to me, was compelling despite its simplicity. I’ve thought back on it several times, and it literally makes me salivate.  Why is it so good? Two reasons: the texture of the tofu which is braised, not stir-fried, is like custard despite the curd being in rectangular prisms – it almost literally melts in your mouth – and the saucing, deceptively Americanized-looking and brownish, which has just the right amount of salt and tang (and yes, probably MSG) to make this dish have an endless finish on the palate.

As I type this, there is not a single dish that I crave more than this one. Right. Now. And according to Chang, the boneless, braised chicken is just as good.

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