Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a friend to most vegans and vegetarians. It's also one of the most versatile foods going. Available soft or firm, it may be dried, fermented or fried. Because it's so neutral in taste, it readily takes on other flavors.
Each of these restaurants uses tofu in its own way.
GREEN TEA RESTAURANT
At this multiregional Chinese restaurant within walking distance of Stony Brook University, you'll want to try the cumin tofu, crisp cubes coated in velvety spices. $11.95
1015 Rte. 25A, Stony Brook, 631-689-1111, greentea-restaurant.com
HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI
Tofu teriyaki stars cubes of fresh, soft Japanese tofu, lightly coated with tempura flour, flash-fried and drizzled with teriyaki sauce. A light crunch yields to an unctuously creamy interior. $12.95
35 W. Main St., Patchogue, 631-627-8090, hoshihibachi.com
3 BROTHERS PIZZA CAFE
On the vegan menu at this little Italian spot are tofu crabcakes, whose crisp exteriors overlay creamy insides. $9
75 Merritts Rd., Farmingdale, 516-755-1100, 3brotherspizzacafefarmingdale.com
At this Sichuan newcomer, you may want to start by ordering smoked tofu with Chinese celery, a cold appetizer almost startling in its sprightliness. $6,95
1902 Jericho Tpke., New Hyde Park, 516-354-2858, chefwangny.com