The Best Chinese Tofus for Home Cooking

There is a lot of variation between Chinese tofus in America. Some are mindblowingly delicious; others should never have been allowed off the factory floor!! To save you the trouble of trying them all, we wanted to share a list of our favorite brands.

 

If you’re looking for a particular type of tofu, click its name below to skip ahead:

  1. PRESSED TOFU
  2. SPONGY TOFU
  3. SHANGHAI TOFU
  4. YUBA
  5. FERMENTED TOFU
A couple notes:
  • If you’re shopping and don’t see the above names, don’t worry – they’re not yet standard across English. We list some of the other things they’re called below.
  • While some of these tofus are available in pan-Asian supermarkets, the majority are specific to Chinese (and Taiwanese) cooking. If you don’t live near a Chinese grocery store, the best way to buy them is via the online retailer Weee! Again, if one particular name doesn’t pop up, just try the others.

Pressed Tofu
豆腐干 doufugan

(AKA baked tofu, smoked tofu, five-spiced tofu, dried tofu)

What : Chinese extra-firm tofu that’s stewed in spices, baked, smoked, or salted.

Where : Chinese supermarkets in the refrigerated tofu section or online.

Subvarieties : stewed, smoked, fried, fried and stewed, salted, original.

Shopping notes : look for ingredients that look dry inside the packaging. Yellow, off-colored liquid indicates spoilage, as does sliminess. Product with a porous or hole-y texture was frozen and thawed multiple times, generally tastes bad, and is sometimes unsafe to eat. We love smoked pressed tofus, but they’re hard to find.

Lam Sheng Kee – “Dried Beancurd”
(unseasoned and seasoned)

Lam Shang Kee brand pressed tofus (available unseasoned and seasoned) are some of our favorites. Imported from China, they’re more tender and less dense than American-made brands. They have a warm and beany flavor, consistent quality, and a long shelf life.

Huaxing – “Seasoned Tofu”
(Shanghai style only)

Huaxing is a US-produced tofu brand from Sacramento, California. Their quality varies substantially between pressed tofu subvarieties (they have several), but their Shanghai-style pressed tofu is almost always delicious. Dense but tender. Flavorful but not cloyingly soy saucy.

Tianyuan 田园 – “Savory Baked Tofu”
(all pressed tofu)

Tianyuan tofus are imported from China. They unfortunately don’t have an English logo. We recommend their pressed tofu (“Savory Baked”) and fried pressed tofus. Both are also non-GMO, if that matters to you (it doesn’t bother us.)

This product has a nice wintery-spiced flavor and a soy saucy sweet and saltiness. While delicious, this product has a short shelf life. Don’t buy it if there’s excess water in the packaging, or if you don’t plan to cook it within 3 or 4 days.

Lam Sheng Kee pressed tofu
(seasoned only)

Visoy is a local tofu company that makes delicious pressed tofu. This product is relatively dense – chewy if chopped into thick pieces or tender and bouncy if sliced thin. It is wintery-spiced and sweet, salty, and savory. We love their seasoned pressed tofu but find their unseasoned to be mono-dimensional. (In contrast to Lam Sheng Kee’s unseasoned tofu, which has a great texture and beany flavor.)

Imperial Taste – “Spiced Tender Bean Curd (this product only)

Imperial is actually a Taiwanese brand. This  particular product is tender and bouncy and very light in flavor. We especially recommend it for pressed tofu-based desserts, like our Broken Cuisine Apple Whiskey Tart. We don’t love Imperial’s other pressed tofus as we find them tough, rubbery, and mostly flavorless.

Tianyuan 田圜 – “Five-Spiced Fried Tofu”
(all pressed tofu)

Tianyuan brand tofus are imported from China. They unfortunately don’t have an English logo. We recommend all of their pressed tofus. 

Their seasoned fried pressed tofu is flavorful and has textural contrast from the dry skin (a pro) and moist insides.

Tianyuan brand tofus have a relatively short shelf life. Occasionally, their fryer oil leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. We wish there were more alternative brands, but few companies make this stuff, and Tianyuan is generally good enough. They’re all non-GMO, if that matters to you (it doesn’t bother us.)

Tianyuan 田园 – “Deep Fried Soybean Cake”
(all pressed tofu)

Tianyuan brand tofus are imported from China. They unfortunately don’t have an English logo. We recommend all of their pressed tofus.

Their fried pressed tofu has textural contrast from the dry skin (a pro) and moist insides. To flavor, just stew or sous vide it in a flavorful sauce ~155F for 3-4 hours.

Tianyuan brand tofus have a relatively short shelf life. Occasionally, their fryer oil leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. We wish there were more alternative brands, but few companies make this stuff, and Tianyuan is generally good enough. They’re all non-GMO, if that matters to you (it doesn’t bother us.)

Spongy Tofu
千页豆腐 qianyedoufu

(AKA 百叶豆腐 baiyedoufu, Q tofu, smooth & chewy tofu, incense pot tofu)

What : a tofu made from soy protein, not whole beans, with a unique spongy structure.

Where : Chinese supermarkets in the refrigerated or frozen tofu sections or online.

Subvarieties : spongy tofu is occasionally sold smoked, but this is uncommon.

Shopping notes : while uncommon, some similar products contain egg. Avoid products that look wet inside the packaging or feel slimy. There are many low quality spongy tofu brands, several of which taste extremely beany (Yimei, Great Entrustment, Layonna Vegetarian, Yang Kee Trading…) The following brands, however, are all great. They can be stored in the fridge for several weeks or frozen indefinitely.

Deanfa – “Tofu”
  

Deanfa is a spongy tofu brand imported from China. Compared to others, it has an especially cohesive texture and mild yet savory flavor. There quality is extremely consistent.

YTS – “Smooth & Chewy Tofu”
 

YTS is an American company that produces a variety of mock meat and soy protein foods. Compared to Deanfa, their spongy tofu has a looser texture and more beany flavor. We find Deanfa to be higher quality, but YTS is good as well. Avoid product that looks moist, crumbling, or discolored inside the packaging as it is not fresh.

Bodhi Vegetarian Supply – “Smooth & Chewy Bean Curd”

Bodhi Vegetarian Supply imports plant-based foods from Taiwan, including this spongy tofu. In spite of the makeshift packaging, the product quality is up there with the best. Its texture is cohesive, meaning it doesn’t easily fall apart, yet it tastes soft and creamy. This product is uncommon at the retail level.

No photos

Tramy – “Incense Pot Tofu”
(denser, more flavorful, additional wheat protein)

All Vegetarian Inc – “Vegan Tofu Block”
(Imported from Taiwan, similar cohesive and tender chew to Bodhi Vegetarian Supply.

Shanghai Tofu
素鸡 suji

(AKA vegetarian chicken, frozen tofu cake, tofu cake, soy sheet roll)

What : a roll of shredded, brined, and pressed tofu sheets.

Where : Chinese supermarkets in the refrigerated or frozen tofu section or online.

Subvarieties : Some products labeled as “suji” are really just pressed tofu, but you can easily tell by their appearance.

Shopping notes : Since all Shanghai tofu is imported from China, and is shipped frozen, products are slightly porous inside. Unlike for pressed tofu, this is actually desirable. Avoid products, however, with ice crystals in the packaging, which indicates they’ve been frozen and thawed several times, leading to tough, sinewy pores and suspect food safety. For foodies with acid reflux, note that Shanghai tofu has a high PH (it’s made by soaking tofu sheets in alkaline water.)

Zhangxiaobao – “Frozen Tofu Cake”
  

Zhangxiaobao is our favorite brand of Shanghai tofu. It has a mild, eggy taste and tender texture. Unfortunately, it’s quality largely depends on supermarket storage – whether it was ever refrozen.

Spring Farm – “Soy Sheet Roll”

Spring Farm also makes a high quality Shanghai tofu. It has a similar mild, eggy flavor and tender crumb. Like for other Shanghai tofu, it’s quality largely depends on supermarket storage – whether it was ever refrozen.

Yuba
油豆皮 youdoupi

(AKA tofu skin, tofu sticks, tofu bamboo, tofu sheets – or sub “tofu” for “bean curd”)

What : A high protein film that forms atop heated soymilk.

Where : Asian supermarkets in the frozen or dried tofu sections or online.

Subvarieties : vary by moisture level (dried, half dried [and frozen], fresh [frozen]), shape (sheets, sticks, ties, etc.), and additional cooking (fried or not).

Shopping notes : We don’t have many recommendations for traditional yuba sheets (half dried and frozen) and dried tofu sticks – brands are pretty similar. In contrast, we’re aware of only one brand that sells thin yuba sheets (half dried and frozen), with a thickness of less than .3 millimeters. Fresh [frozen] tofu sticks fall into two categories: tightly and loosely rolled. We especially enjoy the chew of tightly rolled products and find that they fry up much better. 

Hongchanglong – “Bean Curd Sheet”
Thin yuba sheets – half dried and frozen

Hongchanglong is the only brand we know that sells thin yuba (<.3mm/sheet). They unfortunately have no English logo or branding. The green product listed next is also by them.

This is a variety of extra thin yuba (<.3mm/sheet), half dried and frozen, imported from Malaysia. Thin yuba sheets are more delicate than the traditional stuff and are great for pastries or wraps. While hard to find, Chinese supermarkets sometimes carry them in the frozen tofu section. 

Hongchanglong – “Bean Curd Sheet”
Thin yuba sheets – half dried and frozen

Hongchanglong is the only brand we’re aware of that sells thin yuba (<.3mm/sheet). They unfortunately have no English logo or branding. The red product to the right is also by them.

This is a variety of extra thin yuba (<.3mm/sheet), half dried and frozen, imported from Malaysia. Thin yuba sheets are more delicate than the traditional stuff and are great for pastries or wraps. While hard to find, Chinese supermarkets sometimes carry them in the frozen tofu section.

Weichuan – “Bean Curd Sticks”
(and Havista – “Frozen Tofu Sticks”)
(fresh frozen)

Weichuan is a large Chinese food brand with many different product lines. Their fresh frozen tofu sticks are delicious. Rolled very tight, they have a dense yet delicate chew. (Most other brands are airy). 

Havista brand “Frozen Soy Sticks” are similarly delicious and come in a light green package.

These are generally only sold at Chinese markets.

Any brand – “Bean Curd Sticks”
 (dried)

Dried tofu stick brands don’t vary substantially. If you’d like a more tender bite, opt for the whiter or thinner varieties. If you’d like more chewy, grab the deeper-colored, flatter, thicker product. You can buy this at many Asian markets in the dried tofu section and on Amazon.

Any brand – “Bean Curd Sheets”
Traditional yuba sheets – half dried and frozen

(Brands are of similar quality. Find them at most Asian markets in the frozen tofu section.)

 

Fermented Tofu
腐乳 furu

(AKA fermented bean curd, Chinese cheese, soy cheese)

What : A seasoning made from fermented and salted or brined firm tofu.

Where : Asian supermarkets in the sauces section or online.

Subvarieties : whites, reds, sweet rice wine, stinky, …

Shopping notes : Store in the fridge after opening. Whites taste stronger than reds – there’s less to balance the funk. They’re brinier. Ones with sesame oil tend to taste more brothy. Reds taste more mellow and wintery-spiced. For fermented tofu, all the best products are imported, and we find mainland Chinese brands to be much higher quality than Taiwanese ones. While there are plenty of low-quality brands out there, there are certainly a lot of great ones we haven’t tried.

Guanghe 廣合 – “Bean Curd”
(whites)

Guanghe is a long-established fermented tofu brand from China. Their main offerings are non-spicy and spicy whites. They are mellow yet complex, with notes of fresh cheese, sherry, and sour cream. Unfortunately, their logo doesn’t have any English – so you’ll have to look for the brand insignia.

Wangzhihe – “Bean Curd”
(reds)

Wangzhihe is one of the most recognizable fermented tofu brands, inside and outside of China. They specialize in red fermented tofus, offering original, spicy, and rose-scented subvarieties. They also offer a stinky fermented tofu. This particular product has a deep sweetness and wintery-spiced flavor, reminiscent of cloves, cardamom, and all-spice.

TK – “Bean Curd with Sweet Rice Sauce”
(sweet rice wine)

This is a variety of sweet rice wine fermented tofu by the Chinese brand TK. It has notes of sweet soy sauce, maple, and miso.

Guangzhonghuang 廣中皇 – [no English]
(reds and whites)

Guangzhonghuang is one of our favorite fermented tofu brands, also imported from China. They make both whites and reds. Their red (pictured above) is heavily spiced with a touch of fennel notes. Their white is cheesy, brothy, and like a winey-er and stinkier shiro miso. Unfortunately, their logo doesn’t have any English – so you’ll have to look for the brand insignia.

Xianheng 咸亨 – [no english]
(reds)

Xianheng red fermented bean curd is imported from China. It has a mellow, wine-y flavor with hints of coriander. Unfortunately, their logo doesn’t have any English – so you’ll have to look for the brand insignia.

Chenmanji 陳满記 – “Fermented Beancurd”
(whites)

Chenmanji is an old Cantonese (Chinese) fermented tofu brand. Their whites are incredibly flavorful, briny with notes of banana and green pepper.

Laoganma 老干妈 – “Chili Oil Beancurd”
(white with chili oil)

Laoganma makes one variety of fermented tofu laced with their signature chili oil. Fragrant Sichuan peppercorn, a little spicy, and savory from a lovely dose of MSG.

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