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One dish: Umami’s tofu buns – Isthmus


When the Isthmus office was on State Street, I’d often trek down to the food carts on Library Mall for lunch. I probably went 2-3 times a week, and Umami Buns was one of my most-visited carts. I alternated between the regular and spicy tofu buns, occasionally with edamame on the side when I felt like splurging.

The spicy buns feature a piece of fried tofu, thinly-sliced pickled cucumbers, and a slather of spicy mayo and scallion salsa, all wrapped in a pillowy soft dough bun — taco style. The spice is evident, but manageable for a lightweight like me. The regular tofu buns replace the mayo and salsa with chopped scallions and hoisin sauce, giving them a sweeter flavor. They’re easy to pick up and eat by hand, and I often finished mine before I got back to the office. 

Happily this experience is still available, without the walking, at Umami’s Willy Street location (reopened after a long pandemic hiatus when the restaurant was serving out of sister restaurant Tavernakaya). There I can take my time and enjoy a cocktail.




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