Tofu Asian Fusion


SO this is how it all goes down then: pretty badly. The writing well writ on the wall even as I cross Dumbarton Road and take in the dim lighting, depressing fairy lights and under-new-management sign of Tofu Asian Fusion.

Let’s be clear – this is where I said I would go. But is definitely not where I meant to go. I know this for an absolute immutable fact as soon as I read the menu on the wall outside. Uh-oh. Generico-land.

I’m explaining exactly this to The Herald on the mobile phone as I sit down. In return I’m getting exactly this explained back: too-late-to-change-restaurant-now-dafty. The photo is already scheduled, apparently, and I've already missed the deadline for when I'm supposed to file. Sigh.

So I adopt the position of the only customer in the place. Tune into the Euro-lift music on the sound system. And consider the world’s most generically bland pan Asian menu. Pausing only to snort like a pantomime dame when I have to look very long, and very hard, to find any tofu dishes at all. In a restaurant that has the very word in its name. Sheesh.

Now, this wouldn’t amount to a hill of fermented beans were it not for the fact that right now we are on Dumbarton Road – in the very middle of Glasgow’s organically growing and completely unofficial Chinatown. Popping, chopping, hip ’n’ very much happening Asian restaurants bursting out all around like vibrant spring flowers.

The Happy Taiwan Chicken Chop joint is only about two doors down. From here I can almost see people squeezed into its trestle tables. I want to eat there.

The brilliant Bing Soul, Glasgow’s No1 (in my opinion anyway) desert emporium is only a few blocks away. I want to eat there too. Even if its another of those Black Sesame Bing Su with ice cream, almond slices and rice cake. Or the Mixberry – strawberry ice cream, blueberries, rasps, strawbs and, um, cream cheese. You’re right – sounds weird. The ice cream is damn good though. Those Patbing-Su, to give them their proper Korean name, very moreish.

Most, and I mean most, infuriatingly tonight Tofu Asian Fusion is clearly capable of more thrills and spills than are on offer right now. Plastered to that window out there – the one that has attached to it all the completely wrong-things for an attractive restaurant – was a menu labelled: Student Bento Box offerings. Stir Fry Cauliflower with Tomato. Yes, I want to eat that. Pork Chop Black Pepper Sauce. I want to eat that too. Guess what? I can’t. Only available until 5pm.

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So here I sit. A bowl of free prawn crackers (really) placed in front of me. A laminated menu of endless sighs in one hand. A specials menu promising a two-course dinner for £12.95 in the other. I’m still the only customer in here. So I’m never going to order a la carte am I? Cold kitchen, inactive chef: v dangerous.

Let's go through the specials menu then: chicken wings (no thanks); spare ribs (no); hot and soup soup (er, no); salt and chilli tofu (oh, OK).

Mains: lemon chicken (deep groan); traditional chicken curry (no); Thai green king prawn curry (nah); tofu and vegetable curry (never); Nasi Goreng Kampung (only reluctantly).

And so the meal begins. That tofu is cubed, deep fried, a reasonable tang to the garlic and chilli, the vegetables looking like they have been chopped with an axe rather than a knife but, hey ho, inoffensive.

The Nasi Goreng at least is freshly cooked. The smokey tang of the wok lingers over chicken and king prawn. But its oily in a dull way, lacking flavour to a surprising degree and whilst wholesome it’s neither interesting nor seasoned.

Even the food is served on plates stamped Ichiban Noodle and Sushi Cafe. Uh? What can I say? Is it the worst meal I’ve ever had? Of course not. It’s not even technically bad: just monumentally out of step with what's happening all around.

Tofu Asian Fusion

184 Dumbarton Road



0141 482 7741

Menu: Like it says on the tin – apart from the tofu, weirdly. Retro (now) pan Asian mix of just about everything that’s available everywhere else. Safe but not hugely interesting. 2/5

Service: Certainly smiley and extremely attentive, but for much of the meal I was the only customer. 4/5

Price: There were only two dishes that contained tofu on the specials menu and one of them was a vegetable curry – so I had salt and chilli tofu and then a nasi goreng kampung for £13. OK. 3/5

Atmosphere: Inside it’s not nearly as uninviting as it looks from the outside. Perfectly pleasant wooden tables, bare brick. Lift music. 3/5

Food: Big chunks of onions, a single tomato slice, and a reasonable garlic, chilli sauce to the tofu, the nasi goreng was freshly made if a little oily, quite bland and devoid of punch. 5/10