Taho

From Sunday:

When I was growing up, we often had taho for breakfast. Manila had many magtataho who roamed the streets each morning, with two aluminum buckets hanging in balance from a pole. One bucket had tofu, and the other had compartments for tapioca pearls and sugar syrup. Yaya would have glasses filled and brought upstairs, where they would wait under crocheted glass-covers for us. Sometimes I lucked out and had two glasses of taho, like when I knew other people had finished breakfast already. Sometimes we had taho for afternoon snacks, too. It was fun watching the vendors work: swiftly scooping the tofu into a glass, spooning tapioca pearls in, swirling the syrup and mixing everything together.

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There are no taho vendors in this part of Toronto – or perhaps anywhere in Canada. But we can get silken tofu and tapioca pearls at the Lawrence Supermarket on Black Creek Drive. After five years of only having taho on my trips home, I found a recipe on the Internet and made taho for the first time. It’s simple: a syrup of brown sugar and water, tapioca pearls, and warm silken tofu.

It tasted like the quiet mornings of childhood.

  • http://coevolving.com David Ing

    @sachac The Filipino taho drink would seem to be a variant of the Taiwanese bubble tea with its tapioca pearls, although the tofu feels more like the southern Chinese dessert (i.e. tofu fa. I’ve found those ingredients in Chinatown before, if that’s closer for you.

    This sounds like something that would be great to be served at one of your teas … maybe when the weather reaches Phillippine temperatures.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Yup, tofu fa sounds likely.

    Taho is usually served warm, so it’s a wonderfully satisfying afternoon snack even during winter weather. In fact, I’m thinking of stocking up on soft tofu so that I can make it for breakfasts. And it’s vegan, too, which takes care of people’s dietary restrictions. Yay! December is filling up, but I’d be happy to organize a get-together in January. (Tofu, tea, and tapioca pearls – even bubble tea for those who want it!)

    This will be fun and healthy!

  • http://blog.melchua.com Mel Chua

    I miss taho terribly – it’s one of my father’s favorite foods, and I inherited a taste for it from him. Whenever we are home in the Philippines, his mom (my Ama) always makes sure to get big tubs of it on at least one day.

    Looking forward to visiting Manila for the holidays in a week – your post made me nostalgic, and I’m starting to think about recreating the experience for friends in the US when I get back… kaldereta was already a hit, but halo-halo is harder to get ingredients for and substitutions don’t work so well.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Connecting you with my Tita Gay, who lives in Massachusetts and probably knows where to get all these ingredients at home… =)

  • dejibu

    Depending on where you live in Toronto, you can get taho from a chain of Filipino stores called FV Foods. There’s one located on the Warden Ave, between Eglinton Ave and St. Claire, and another at Wilson Ave/Bathurst St. Of course it’s not gonna be as good as the ones from Manila, but I like going to FV because they also have cooked food, anything from ulam to dessert like ginatan and turon. It’s a good place to go if you get cravings for something filipino, esp. taho during a hot summer day.

  • http://mscheska.wordpress.com/ Miss Cheska

    Love taho! This post made me nostalgic. I remember watching the man skim for tofu out on the street, and looking for him with my yaya in the afternoon when I got home for school. Strange how I cling to my heritage, customs and foods as an older Americanized woman now when I shunned it growing up. Unfortunately I live in upstate NY where access is limited to Filipino foods and restaurants– have had to learn on my own to cook my parents’ recipes and favorite comfort foods and drinks. Quite an adventure! Do you mind sharing the taho recipe? TIA, and thanks for sharing this memory. :) -C

  • Christian

    The Kanto Boys Kitchen – a new kakanin supplier in Toronto delivers fresh taho on a daily basis to multiple locations in Scarborough and the West End. Unlike FV Foods, who refrigerate their taho and heat it up to order (which is gross because over time the tofu releases liquid that dilutes the syrup – not to mention taho easily spoils) the Kanto Boys taho is made every morning and only served for the day: just like in the Philippines. Look out for their taho at Mami’s (Oriental Centre Brimley and Sheppard), Jocelyn’s (4830 Sheppard Ave E), or Coffee In (Birchmount and Lawrence). Highly recommended.

  • http://www.trajano.net/ Archimedes Trajano

    Sacha, one of the better Taho I found is inside the plaza at Kennedy and 7. There is a small stall there that sells soy bean drink and the taho. It does not have the brown sugar syrup or tapioca though, but those you can grab elsewhere.