The Source Takes Tofu Challenge - D.C.

The Source takes the tofu challenge

Scott Drewno is an unabashed carnivore.

This makes his dedication to producing the city's best tofu all the more interesting. The chef at The Source has taken to the soybean with the care he usually puts into his delicate dim sum, pressing each tofu block to the perfect firmness, and eliminating the plasticky aftertaste that he noticed in mass-market alternatives.

Drewno's ma po tofu has us tossing out takeout menus. To prepare the custardy side ($10), he steams silken tofu in a clay pot. To create the strapping, spicy topping, he braises, grinds, then fries pork belly, sautéing it with fresh and dried chiles, along with ginger and black pepper. The dish is soft enough to eat with a spoon, and ideal over fried rice.

Tofu is pressed for six hours to reach the right texture for his crisp, salt-and-pepper-coated main course ($23). Drewno coats each plumped cube in cornstarch, then stir-fries it with scallions, Thai chiles, salt and freshly ground Szechuan peppercorns.

In warmer weather, Drewno infuses tofu with yuzu juice, cooking the mixture sous-vide to infuse each bite with the tart citrus.

It's just oh soy good.

The Source by Wolfgang Puck, 575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (entrance on 6th St.); 202-637-6100 or