You’ll never shop for tofu in Japan the same way again.

If you’ve been to a Japanese supermarket before, you’ll know that there’s almost always a good chunk of refrigerated shelf space dedicated solely to different brands and types of tofu. Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa is prone to thinking this is a bit excessive, especially as he just buys the same kind of tofu every time.

Seiji recently pondered why there are so many brands. After all, wasn’t tofu just…tofu? To see if there was any difference in flavor among different tofu brands, he decided to try all of the firm tofu (or momen tofu) offered in his neighborhood’s supermarkets (we are really into taste-testing things lately, by the way.)

▼ So…much…tofu…

Seiji managed to round up six different brands of firm tofu, trying to buy the same amount of tofu each time in order to compare their prices as well. Here’s his firm tofu bill:

  • Sato no Yuki “Delicious Firm Tofu” – 198 yen (US$1.55)
  • Marusho “Firm Tofu by a Tofu Master” – 109 yen
  • Asahiko “Oyama Afuri Firm Tofu” – 129 yen
  • Marusho “Third Generation Goemon Smooth Firm Tofu” – 179 yen
  • CGC “Ice-aged Firm Tofu With Hokkaido-Grown Soybeans” – 89 yen
  • Takano Foods “Okame Firm Tofu, Twin Pack” – 138 yen

Keep in mind that prices are based on the supermarkets in Seiji’s neighborhood, so they may differ depending on the area.

▼ This first one, the “Okame Firm Tofu”, is the control group (or Seiji’s regular).

To be honest, Seiji couldn’t imagine any tofu being more delicious than his beloved regular variety. So while he couldn’t picture a bad-tasting tofu, he was clearly going into this taste test with a bias. But would the results be as he expected? Let’s take a look at his report.

Sato no Yuki “Delicious Firm Tofu” 

Sato no Yuki’s “Delicious Firm Tofu” tasted the closest to the control group. Seiji had high hopes it would taste luxurious as it was the most expensive one on the list and it was packaged in a fancy paper instead of just plastic, but alas. He wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this one and his favourite Okame brand if this was a blind taste test.

Asahiko “Oyama Afuri Firm Tofu”

On the other end of the spectrum was Asahiko’s “Oyama Afuri Firm Tofu”. It had such a distinct taste that he would be able to identify it immediately in a blind taste test. It had a rough texture that almost crumbled when cut with chopsticks. If you want tofu that will give you an almost rugged mouthfeel, Seiji recommends this one.

Marusho “Firm Tofu by a Tofu Master” 

Marusho’s “Firm Tofu by a Tofu Master” had a similar mouthfeel and texture, so if you want a cheaper version, go with this one!

Marusho “Third Generation Goemon Smooth Firm Tofu”

If you’re curious which tofu left Seiji absolutely shook, it would be the “Third Generation Goemon Smooth Firm Tofu” by Marusho (pictured above). Even though the outside was definitely considered firm tofu, the inside was soft and smooth. It was almost like a hybrid type tofu. He thought this made it high-class, but he was about to be proven wrong.

CGC “Ice-aged Firm Tofu With Hokkaido-Grown Soybeans”

When Seiji tried CGC’S “Ice-aged Firm Tofu With Hokkaido-Grown Soybeans”, he found that it tasted exactly the same as the previous one! And the CGC tofu had twice the amount for half the price. This could be a blessing for people or families that eat a lot of tofu, but Marusho’s “Third Generation Goemon” tofu might be better if you only eat tofu in small amounts.

▼ That’s a pretty noticeable size difference, yup.

In the end, Seiji’s world of tofu was turned upside down by this taste test. He’ll probably still stick with his good ol’ Okame brand, but he’s also tempted by the cost effectiveness of the CGC tofu. The one thing he can say with absolute certainty, though, is that tofu does indeed taste different depending on the brand. Maybe his results would have differed if his supermarket sold the Gold Gundam tofu!

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