One could say the Denny’s of Korean Soon Tofu joints, but it’s way better than that.
Now that I’ve discovered the wondrous joys of Korean Tofu Soup (AKA, Soon Tofu or Sundubu Jjigae) at places like Young Dong in Rosemead, I may was well dive in an get a taste of the good stuff in Koreatown, right? Right?
Well, it made sense to me at the time. Plus I was damn hungry at the time.
A late night adventure through Los Angeles, as well as a personal recommendation, brought me to BCD Tofu House. If you’re in and around Koreatown, you’ll see them literally everywhere. By my count, looking at the printed placemat in front of me, there are at least 11 of these joints around town.
Printed placements. Yeah, it’s that kind of joint, but who cares. They’re feeding you and the food’s good.
Tofu Houses are never meant to be fine dining. Think of it like a Korean Denny’s, it also open 24-7, but the foods way, way better. There are long, communal tables inside, where you might just be expected to bump elbows with your neighbor, but…you’ll be eating Korean Tofu Soup while you’re doing so, so…can’t be all bad.
Communal tables…like over at A-Frame. Now I’m wondering if this is just Roy Choi carrying over a Korean tradition that we have remained all too ignorant of.
Now, do you remember what the deal is with Korean Tofu? Allow me to remind you. Your soup will arrive fresh from the oven. “Fresh from the oven” meaning boiling and lethally lava-like. Now, the good news is you would have been served up some good fresh Banchan while you wait, and one of those items will be a fresh, raw, uncooked egg. Now, don’t do anything with that egg until the soup arrives, because once it’s there, you’re going to crack it open, and dump its contents into the still boiling broth. As it settles down, the Egg will cook, and you’ll spoon it all onto your rice.
Yes, rice will comes with the meal.
At the end of the day, despite all the food you’re given, it’s still a pretty light meal. All the veggies and tofu you’re eating? You won’t feel stuff afterwards. All you have to do is figure out exactly how spicy you want it. I’m still dribbling down in the mild area, but after this, I need to work my way up.
Overall, I liked my meal here. I still like Young Dong a bit more, but still it was good. I’d come here again.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, I say always help yourself to whatever is the star attraction of any restaurant. If the place is called BCD Tofu House, get the Soon Tofu. Odds are, they sell a lot of it.
Now, Soon Tofu comes in a lot of varieties. Yes, if you’re a meat eater like me, you can assuage the awful feeling of eating something totally healthy by throwing some meat in there. I myself got the Kimchi with Pork, but you can also get it with Beef (like I had over at Young Dong), and Ham, Sausage, Onion and Cheese. That’s got me all kinds of curious now.
And yes, for the vegetarian set, there’s an all veggie Version with Mushrooms and Onion, and Seafood variety with Shrimp, Oysters and Clam…all bubbling in that same fiery hell broth.
Hell broth…but in a good way.
Now, Soon Tofu is a pretty big meal. We’re talking a big ol’ bowl of the soup, layered on top of a big ol’ bowl of the rice. And you’ve had some Banchan at this point. Nothing as elaborate as what you might get at Chosun, but still…
If that’s not enough for you, you can couple a Soon Tofu dish with their entrees like Galbi (Short Rib) and Bulgogi, or Spicy Port Bulgogi, but that’s a lot of food.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing too serious. All I can tell you is that there are a lot of communal tables, so don’t expect to necessarily sit alone.
Also, Parking in front of the Restaurant is a bit of a hassle (see below), and the rest of the Parking is in decently dark (at night), so be mindful. It’s not a dangerous neighborhood at all, but…you know. It’s still L.A.
PARKING: This particular location is in a Strip Mall slash Plaza. Ostensibly there’s a lot of parking, but it still might be a little difficult on a Weekend night. Parking right in front of the Restaurant is just asking for it. Everyone and their grandma is going to park there. So you’re left to the rest of the lost, which supports a lot of other businesses, and is usually incredibly busy…and full.
BCD Tofu House
869 S. Western Ave, Ste 2
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: (213) 380-3807
Open 24 Hours/7 days a week