Housed in what used to be a candy factory and later a bakery, Hodo Soy Beanery makes organic soymilk, tofu, ready-made dishes, and yuba ("tofu skin") in a remodeled West Oakland factory. The production line is a mesh of old and new: traditional forms of tofu making, which includes hand-drying yuba, the protein-rich layer that forms on top of steamed soymilk, as well as upgraded, sterile, stainless-steel equipment that makes artisanal soy products. Goods are sold at farmers' markets and at the factory, which is open to public tours twice a month for $10. Tours include a video introduction and an explanation of how tofu is made, viewing of workers making tofu and other soy foods, a Q&A, and sampling of their soymilk and dishes. Their fresh soymilk can't be beat — rich, creamy, and warm, made from organic beans from the Midwest. Founder Minh Tsai and his crew of artisans and entrepreneurs (food entrepreneur John Scharffenberger was recently named CEO) are proving that tofu doesn't have to be bland, but instead, tasty, healthy, fresh, and locally made. Dishes at restaurants like the Slanted Door and Coi in San Francisco and Saul's Restaurant and Delicatessen in Berkeley recognize Hodo's products by name.
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