The Evolution of the Fare at Fong On, New York’s Oldest Family-Owned Tofu Shop
We’re typically told not to mess with family recipes—but for Paul Eng, an artist and the third-generation owner of a storied tofu shop in New York, doing so can be an act of both respect and self-expression. In 1933, his grandfather opened Fong Inn Too in the city’s Chinatown district after immigrating to America from China. The store specialized in tofu, but was also known for its herbal jelly (leung fan), rice cakes (bak tong gou), and other traditional fare. When Eng’s parents closed the space, in 2017, it was the oldest family-owned tofu shop in the city, and one of just two places in Chinatown where customers could buy blocks of freshly pressed bean curd. Eng decided to shift his focus to bringing the business back to life, but faced a steep learning curve: No one could tell him any of the shop’s beloved recipes, which had never been written down.