Ha! It turns out I'm not crazy.
I knew there was a place in South Philly that made their own tofu and sold it at very reasonable prices, but when I tweeted for help in remembering the name of the place, people chimed in, "Check any Asian grocery or Whole Foods for Nature's Soy."
Nature's Soy is made in Philly, and their plastic tubs of reasonably priced tofu are abundant in the city's grocery stores, but I was just sure I had heard of some other place making and selling tofu cheaper, and doing it specifically in South Philly.
That place is Viet Tofu!
In the large Vietnamese shopping center at the intersection of 11th St. and Washington Ave., you'll find Viet Tofu (right across from Nam Phuong on the 11th St. side), a Vietnamese store selling housemade banh mis, bubble teas, sweets, snacks, and quick lunches. Viet Tofu's specialty is their housemade tofu and soy milk, though. Right when you walk in the door, there is a tub filled with blocks of fresh, firm tofu. The tofu blocks (which are larger than the blocks you get in the white plastic containers) are $1 each, or 6 for $5. This is the tofu I was looking for!
And, the fresh tofu is individually wrapped in plastic, in case you're one of those that are skeeved out by sticking your hand (where did those tongs go?) into water to pluck tofu out of bulk tofu bins.Over on the hot bar you'll find assorted fried tofu creations. Tofu Viet takes their housemade tofu and blends it with ingredients like lemongrass for lemongrass tofu, or cilantro for vegetable tofu. Not all of the tofu creations are vegetarian; for instance, there is a shrimp and tofu blend, as well as some other meat and tofu blends, so be sure to read the labels before you start loading up.
Viet Tofu is pretty good about labeling their food with English so non-Vietnamese speakers don't have to guess at what that package of ambiguous food is, but, for some reason, English labeling doesn't quite make it to the food in the refrigerator section.
Prices vary on the fried tofu, but these lemongrass and vegetable fried tofu pieces were 5 for $1.
Don't miss the housemade soy milk over in the coolers. There are gallon, half-gallon, and single-serving sizes of sweetened and unsweetened soy milk (a red string on the handle denotes that it's unsweetened), as well as green soy milk (made from edamame). I picked up a single-serving bottle of green soy milk for $1 — thick, fresh, and very bean-y tasting, but in a good way.
Locally-made tofu and soy milk bargains! Vietnamese yumminess! Go, go, go!
1110 Washington Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19147