Sandwich of the Week: City Bakery’s Barbecued Tofu — Yes, Tofu

It smells kind of familiar and undeniably meatlike.Photo: Melissa Hom

Ever since man discovered tofu, hes been trying to trick himself into thinking its meat. Traditionally, this is attempted by playing with texture, form, and flavor, and the results, needless to say, arent always successful. There is good fake-meat tofu (Chinese mock duck, the Unchicken Buffalo Wings at Kates Joint in the East Village), and bad fake-meat tofu (the Tofurkey). Now, however, comes what some might consider a major breakthrough in the history of tofu chicanery the City Bakerys new barbecued-tofu sandwich.

It comes stacked with dominoes of grilled and marinated tofu, crisp romaine lettuce, and several gobs of horseradish mayo on grilled country bread. And although it doesnt look or taste like meat, it smells kind of familiar and undeniably meatlike. What, specifically, that smell is, the Underground Gourmet concluded after sniffing at it like an old bloodhound, is McDonalds. More specifically, it smells like either a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder or maybe just that sweet ketchupy-oniony condiment McDonalds lathers all over its hamburger buns. The UG couldnt decide.

I even thought about writing Smells Like a Hamburger on the menu, says City Bakerys Ilene Rosen, who modestly claims that she wasnt going for a burger aroma, or any particular aroma for that matter, when she masterminded the sandwich. But that might have scared the tofu lovers away.

In any event, unless youre Morgan Spurlock, its a pretty good smell and a thoroughly tasty sandwich. Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld

The City Bakery, 3 W. 18th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-366-1414; available at the lunch counter only.