Kabocha's Vegetarian Delights | West Loop, Chicago

An inspired vegetarian dish from Chicago's Kabocha

Michelin-starred chef Shin Thompson knows that not everyone worships at the tofu altar.

But at his Japanese-style brasserie, Kabocha, in Chicago, Thompson challenged himself to develop meatless dishes that every diner would return for again and again.

For instance, one of the most popular items has been his delicately fried shishito peppers with multicolored cauliflower, pickled shallots and roasted artichoke curry–a far cry from tired vegetable medleys of years past.

And as for that tofu? His roasted version (see the recipe) is also a revelation. Thompson marinates thin slabs of firm tofu overnight in a negi-yaki-inspired sauce of soy, rice wine, peppers, scallions and garlic, shallots and ginger.

The tofu is seared on the kitchen's plancha, quickly baked, and served with a vegetarian dashi and baby beluga lentils. Our simplified version skips the sear–but the garlicky, tender, sweet-sour results are no less flavorful.

We guarantee that even those who are anti-tofu will be turned.

If we do say soy ourselves.