Sun Wah BBQ's Flavor-Soaked Tofu | Uptown, Chicago

Sun Wah's new tofu factory is a reason to feast

Racks of roasted meat line the front window of Sun Wah, like they do at all the best Chinese barbecue spots.

But the next feast you have at the classic Uptown restaurant should have a different focus: tofu.

Since 1993, the Cheng family has owned a tofu factory that supplies the restaurant's needs. Last July, they closed the original and built a new one: Sun Xien Soy Products, which opened in Canaryville in January.

The tofu recipe is new, with a pronounced soy flavor and a yellowish tint that comes, says owner Kelly Cheng, from packaging the tofu as soon as it's finished, as opposed to letting it sit in a water bath.

Try firm tofu in a fried tofu casserole ($11.50), with cubes of fried, shrimp-stuffed tofu simmered in black bean sauce. Pan-seared tofu ($9.50) cooked with house-made bean paste and hoisin, oyster and soy sauces is a favorite of Cheng's father.

The soft tofu is best fried (an off-menu dish; $9.50), with a crunchy exterior and a meltingly soft interior, or steamed with small shrimp meatballs, scallions and cilantro ($11).

Call five days in advance to request another off-menu special: tofu-skin rolls, with fresh tofu skin wrapped around wood ear mushrooms, carrots and daikon, fried and finished with a silky garlic-soy sauce.

Sun Wah BBQ, 5039 N. Broadway; 773-769-1254 or