Organic Tofu Maker Hodo Soy Beanery Opens Factory in West Oakland
Innovative Bay Area maker of organic soymilk, tofu and yuba
Public viewing and tasting hours in December 2009
OAKLAND, Calif., October 13, 2009 — Today, Hodo Soy Beanery opens its new facility in West Oakland, where it will produce its freshly made, organic soymilk, tofu, yuba (tofu skin), and prepared dishes for the San Francisco Bay Area. The Beanery will offer public tours starting this December where visitors can meet the tofu makers, learn about the history of the soybean and tofu, see Hodo Soy Beanery’s innovative approach to tofu-making, and taste a range of its fresh products.
Hodo Soy Beanery founder and Tofu Master, Minh Tsai, was inspired to make tofu after failing to find the fresh, artisan soymilk and tofu he remembers getting from the neighborhood tofu shack as a child in Vietnam. With a group of friends and family, he started making soymilk, tofu and yuba with whole, organic, non-GM soybeans out of a family-run commercial kitchen and started selling it at the Palo Alto farmers’ market. In 2004, after positive response and growing demand, Minh left his job in finance to launch Hodo Soy Beanery. He was soon joined by business partner, John Notz, who signed on to help expand the business. Today, Hodo Soy Beanery’s products are available at their booths at ten Bay Area farmers’ markets and a growing number of local grocery stores and restaurants including Coi, Greens and the Slanted Door.
“We want people to think of tofu in a different way,” explains Minh. “Much like fine cheese and chocolate, there’s a real artistry to creating great-tasting tofu and yuba, and this artistry starts with the ingredients.” Hodo Soy Beanery sources organic soybeans grown at a Midwestern co-op and makes its tofu products in a light-filled facility, a former candy factory and bakery. The custom-designed manufacturing equipment combines art and science, and was fabricated by one of Asia’s oldest tofu equipment producers.
“Tofu is not a bland, rubbery food that is only eaten because it is good for you,” says Minh, “It is most delicious when it is made with care and eaten fresh.” This means an early morning start for the Tofu Master; Hodo Soy Beanery aims to have all their products delivered to customers within 12 hours of preparation. “When you eat Hodo Soy Beanery tofu products, you know exactly where the beans come from, when and where the products are made, and who makes them,” explains Minh.
Hodo Soy Beanery’s product range showcases the many shapes and textures soymilk and tofu can take. It is the only producer of fresh, organic yuba in the United States. Yuba, or tofu skin, is what Minh calls “the sashimi of soy.” It’s the delicate sheet of soy cream that forms on top of a batch of fresh, gently warmed soymilk. The sheets are lifted by hand from the surface of the soymilk and dried on metal rods. Yuba can be eaten fresh with a dipping sauce or added to soups or stews. In addition to yuba, Hodo Soy Beanery makes fresh soy noodles from firm tofu and silky soy custard as well as ready-to-eat dishes such as spicy croquettes, braised tofu salad, soy noodle salad, and chocolate mousse – all made from organic soybeans.
Growing demand at their farmers’ market booths and from Bay Area chefs like Daniel Patterson and Charles Phan encouraged Hodo Soy Beanery to expand. With the help of investors and advisors including Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery and John Scharffenberger, founder of Scharffenberger Cellars and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Minh and John relocated Hodo Soy Beanery’s headquarters to its spacious production facility in West Oakland. It is here that an Old World food tradition combined with New World innovation finds expression and an appreciative audience.
Hodo Soy Beanery currently distributes through Bay Area farmers' markets and wholesale to restaurants, grocery stores, and food service operators (corporations and schools). Hodo Soy Beanery is a proud member of West Oakland's economic community. For farmers’ market locations, recipes and more information, visit www.hodosoy.com.