Tofu and Okra With Lemongrass at Nha Trang Centre

Tofu and Okra With Lemongrass at Nha Trang Centre

You might not be too surprised to hear that tofu, the final product of coagulated, molded soy milk, can sometimes be a bit off-putting. When raw or steamed, it often wobbles between soggy and watery; when fried, its outer skin usually packs too much chewiness. The situation just gets worse when chefs try to mask these shortcomings with heavy sauce.

Nha Trang Centre's tofu and okra with lemongrass, however, enhances the braised bean curd's simplicity with well-considered seasonings. Plentiful pieces of the citrusy lemongrass bring lightness to this garlicky dish without being acerbic, the way orange, lemon, or lime can be too sour at times. Flecks of red chili peppers lend a slightly hot punch to the dish.

Slivers of sautéed white and red onion abound, as do slices of red and green bell peppers. But it's the okra that steals the show, thanks to its fresh, crisp skin and a seed-filled interior that's neither gooey nor gelatinous. It indeed makes for an interesting change in stir-fried tofu dishes, which are commonly filled with broccoli or string beans.

The straw mushrooms, though, do taste like the canned variety. Thankfully, they do not leave your mouth with that metallic feeling, so the sizable -- and delightful -- $9 offering remains a pleasant pick.

Nha Trang Centre 148 Centre Street 212-941-9292

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