It smells like a Japanese restaurant, looks like a loaf of foie, and delivers a taste reminiscent of foie lathered in mayonnaise. Rau Om's Tofu Misozuke, made in Belmont, is about as close to foie gras as a vegan can ever taste without violating principle.
Tofu Misozuke uses Miso-Cured Tofu, made locally with non-GMO ingredients and cured in fermented soybean paste (miso) for a minimum of two months. The resulting block is similar in consistency to a thick chevre and eminently spreadable. Bread makes a fine companion.
The initial taste is quite similar to the dense, almost unctuous, richness of foie, but then the miso umami character quickly blossoms and the two combine in a distinctly mayonnaise-like flavor, rich with umami and tinted with a sharpness from the fermentation.
Rau Om recommends you enjoy the Japanese delicacy as you would a strong cheese: with dried fruits or preserves, paired with wine or sake, on bread or crackers, or on its own.
To us the dense and pronounced flavors need a foil, and fresh French bread seems the most promising.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan in search of a hint of how the other side lives, this is worth a try. It's available online, and at the Sunnyvale Farmers' Market (Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and the California Ave Farmers' Market in Palo Alto (Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), and retails for $7 a piece with a nice bamboo stand.