Class 601 Cafe -- yet another individual hot pot place, but this one has stinky tofu. [SF]

Class 601 Cafe on that hectic, ever changing pan-Asian stretch of Irving St. is currently in soft opening, with its “official” grand opening slated for June 6. It’s another entrant in the recent rash of individual hot pot places. You can choose a set combination of ingredients or build your own from a buffet and they will cook it for you.

What brought me there, however, was the lure of deep-fried stinky tofu, one of my favorite street foods in Shanghai. It’s a generous serving, 18 cubes (some Yelper counted them) for $4.99, served n a paper carton, with chili sauce, hoisin sauce, and some other condiments on a side table for your addition. Unfortunately it’s not quite up to snuff at this point. I found it a little too mild (even milder than the medium-chou Shanghai street style I am most familiar with), more chewy than crispy on the outside, and a bit oil-sodden. Since it’s their soft opening period, it may improve.

Class 601’s FB page (www.class601.com will lead you there) claims “The first Class 601 chain cafe in the United States. The Leading Self-Served Malatang (Numb & Spicy Personal Hot Pot) restaurant in the world” but Googling its English and Chinese names did not uncover any evidence of such a chain Perhaps they were being tongue-in-cheek. In any event, it’s a cute operation, and I hope their chou doufu improves; it’s nice to be able to grab a carton on the fly for a pittance.

Class 601 Cafe 六年一班
2110 Irving St.

Presumably it’s part of Quickly. Given the exact location, it’s probably their latest concept experiment.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold