Tofoo Com Chay — restaurant review — California
Posted on February 27, 2008 by Kris Nelson
Tofoo Com Chay feels like family when Ben, the friendly upbeat shopowner with the photographic memory greets regulars by name every time without fail. One tiny counter lady seems to only know the english word “dear”, repeating it often. But the service is only one of the reasons why you’ll make frequent visits. The completely Buddhist vegetarian fare with Vietnamese flair is enticingly inventive with an array of fake meats that could fool a carnivore. Their grilled psuedo pork has actually been charred over an open flame (see pic above) and is scrumptious in their bahn mi, a traditional sandwich indicative of French influence on Vietnamese cuisine as it is served on a crispy French roll with cilantro, vinegary daikon (Japanese radish) and carrots. If you can handle the heat, request sliced green chili peppers. Tofoo Com Chay offers a variety of bahn mi, including “Sloppy Tuna” which I of course had to try. It’s more like a sloppy joe rather than seafood, and pretty darn tasty. Nothing can beat their Chinese Pork Sausage sandwich, filled with pink Char Siu substitute.
Tofoo Com Chay also offers rice plates with two- three- or four- entree item increments. Prices are so cheap and selections are equally delicious so you can go nuts with confidence. I recommend the roti (not to be confused with Indian flatbread of the same name), or shaped soy gluten drumsticks that have a layered, flesh-like texture that’s a little creepy if I think about it, delicious if I don’t. Slathered in a tangy salty sauce, the roti drumsticks are an incredible vegetarian treat. Ben was trying another slightly larger version of the roti in a barbeque sauce, but I’d stick with the original.
The black pepper “sausage”, sesame “chicken” patties, lemongrass tofu, tomato totu, thai basil tofu, and pineapple “fish” fillets are also extremely crazy yummy. We haven’t tried their phở, but from the satisfied slurps and post-slurp nose-blowing heard at neighboring tables, I can safely vouch for this dish and it’s spiciness.
There isn’t much to displease at Tofoo Com Chay. I love the sun-faded placards enforcing their “be kind to animals and vegetables” vibe. I also love the spelling for “tofoo” in their name. I even sometimes get a craving for their spring rolls, which are insultingly served with plastic packets of sweet and sour sauce, perhaps to help mask the over-fried, dry filling. The only things I should warn you about are the limited seating (four 2-seater tables inside, one or two “seasonal” tables outside), cash-only, and the bland, chalky, mothball-ish almond cookies, but they feed you so well at Tofoo Com Chay that you probably won’t have room for dessert.
Tofoo Com Chay
388 E Santa Clara St – San Jose, CA – (408) 286-6335
HOURS: M-F: 9am-9pm, Sat: 10am-6pm, Closed Sunday
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