San Jose Tofu Company- 71-year old handmade tofu shop to close

The trip to Japantown in San Jose was originally prompted by this Mercury News article that San Jose Tofu Company, a 71-year-old 3rd generation tofu shop and one of the very few places that still make tofu by hand, was closing at the end of this month.

Like many food, machine-made have gradually replaced hand-made. For food, we benefit from those who provide their manual labor to give us items that taste better than machine-made. The Nozaki family is just physically exhausted having to haul tens of pounds of pails full of soy beans. And carrying those heavy pails of tofu with water to and from the fridge is not easy. I am grateful for what they provided all the years.

Perhaps because of the article, there were quite a few people lining up to get their tofu. I grabbed mine and the last tub of soy milk. They said they were out of the silken tofu dessert. I never tried their dessert before. But I can imagine handmade making a big difference in the silken tofu texture so I was a bit bummed.

The soy milk was unsweetened and tasted rich and soy-y. $1.50 for a large container around a quart. A steal. $2.25 for a big piece of tofu.

Come early and see what they have. They just happened to be filling the soy milk into the containers right when I started lining up. So the people who showed up 5 minutes before and immediately after me didn’t get any. So some of it is luck what they may have and when.

Any one tried their silken tofu dessert?

Their tofus are also carried in a few selected Japanese markets. I believe Suruki in San Mateo, and Nijiya carries them.


Okara, or soy pulp


Does Japanese silken tofu dessert come with ginger syrup? I’m only familiar with the Vietnamese version.

If you are interested in Vietnamese tofu, there are several shops that make it in house. In addition to plain, chili & lemongrass and black mushroom & onion are common with the ingredients embedded inside while the curds are being pressed. These golden fried cubes go for 4-6 for a dollar. A yummy treat.

Thanh Son Tofu

Binh Minh Tofu

Hung Vuong Tofu

Vinh Khang Tofu

Dong Phuong

Most places also sell hot prepared foods (vegetarian) and mock versions of the typical Viet noodle soups.

I understand that stores open and stores close. I get that. Successful businesses should thrive and inefficient businesses are to be disappeared. However, it is unfortunate to have one of these historical and (appeared to be) high quality stores disappear. Maybe I am getting old, but I don’t understand this world anymore. I don’t understand why good quality traditional stores losing businesses (like this tofu shop and many others). Meanwhile, mindless bubble tea shops everywhere.

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I think they do, according to Yelpers.

I think this place does business just fine. Its just doing it the old way requires the owners to carry heavy weight and their bodies are worn out.

I know, but it is not like it is great. My guess is that it is just cruising along ok. If it is great, then they can sell the store to a buyer to take over. Many new businesses fail. If an existing successful business is in place, then it is very attractive to purchase it (including the name) and continue to operate – unless of course it isn’t lucrative enough. After this tofu shop closes down, it is unlikely another tofu shop replaces. It will be one of the bubble tea shops or stir fried ice cream or something of that nature.

Hahaha. …wait, is there really stir fried ice cream? (Jumps on to Google).

:slight_smile: It kind of has the motion of stir fry, but it is a misleading term because it is using “cold surface” and not “hot surface” to create ice cream. There are just so many of them in New York City.

It doesn’t really taste better than regular ice cream (in my opinion). It is fun to watch, but I really don’t get the long wait line. 10 Below in Manhattan Chinatown can get a really long line at times.

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

― Jonathan Gold