There’s more to Korean Food than Barbecue, and maybe you should drive to San Gabriel and find out about it.
We Americans maintain one awful, terrible habit when it comes to Food. We tend blanket everything under one Umbrella.
What do I mean? Think about that “Chinese Food” you just had, odds are it is probably Cantonese. But the Dumplings you had, the Xiaolongbao…they originate from Northern China, where Shanghai is.
Canton and Shanghai.. Same country. Different styles. The people who actually live in China would hardly call what they have “Chinese Food”. They’d break it down to the region. They’d get specific.
Imagine, going to Europe, and looking up a Restaurant that served “American Food”, “now just what the hell is American Food?” you’d be thinking. Yeah, sure that’s a Burger, and that’s a Hot Dog. But is the Hot Dog make Chicago style or New York Style, because those are two very different animals. And then what if you see Gumbo, or Jambalaya on the menu. Well, that’s every bit as American as Apple Pie, but they’re really Louisiana-Cajun-Creole.
See we do it to ourselves as well.
Suffice it to say, Korean food isn’t just about Barbecue. There is other stuff to indulge in, like Tofu.
Okay, I know I just lost a great majority of the Non-Vegetarians out there who hear the words “Tofu” and they leave this page to start web searching the menu for Sizzler. But remember what I said: Korean. And since when does Korean cuisine go all squishy and soft when it comes to flavor.
Korean Tofu is a serious, serious deal. It comes at you in a cast iron crock pot fresh from the oven…so fresh from the over that…when done right…the stuff’s still boiling away, and even though its at your table, you have to wait a bit before you can actually get to work.
Young Dong Tofu House actually serves all the Korean specialities that you’d be familiar with at a place like Chosun Galbee. It just that the real star of the show is Tofu Soup (AKA, Soon Tofu or Sundubu Jjigae) of varying varieties.
You walk in, and are immediately hit with the Neighborhood/Family Joint vibe. After all, Young Dong shares space with an outpost of the 168 Grocery Chain and a bunch of other places. You get in, and the menus are either on the wall in front of you or they’re the place mat right there at your table. Order up, and let the fun begin.
Your Soup will arrive at your table in a state that would send you to the ER if it was spilled on you.
Yeah, that hot.
Don’t worry, your Waitstaff are compromised entirely of professionals. Just let them set it down, and wait.
Actually, you see that Egg they served up alongside your Banchan?
Yes, they serve Banchan here. This is a Korean restaurant, after all.
Yes, they gave you an Egg. Weren’t you paying attention?
Well, that Egg is raw. Crack it open, and drop it’s delicious uncooked contents into your still boiling Tofu Soup. Let sit. Enjoy the Banchan, order a coke, let it cool.
The next thing that should arrive is another cast iron pot full of rice. Scoop some rice into a bowl, spoon to the Tofu and go to delicious, spicy work. Simple as can be.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Okay, have I mentioned the Tofu?
Oh, you mean what kind should you get? Gotcha. My bad.
I went with the Beef and Kimchi variety, but individual tastes may vary. When I was there, which was just after the Lunch Crush, they sold combo platters. Basically, a hunk of Korean pre-prepared Barbecue (no stove tops at your table at Young Dong), combined with the soup of your choice. I went with Spicy Pork.
Yeah, like you’re surprised.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: There are two of them. They tie together. One has to deal with the amount of spice. The other has to do with the amount of food.
When you order your soup, your Waiter or Waitress will ask how spicy do you want it. Here’s what I did. I went waaaay mild, especially for my first trip (it will be one of many) because I know the definition of Korean Spicy, and they don’t play. Turns out I made the right decision, because between the Spicy Pork and the Kimchi portion of the Banchan I had all the spice I can handle.
Turns out, I had all the food I could handle as well.
Again, I’m coming in for a simple, quiet lunch and man did these guy pile on the grub. So, first up comes the Banchan, only five…but heck, since I was expecting none, it was a welcome, if filling surprise.
I really should’ve known.
As I’m starting to worry whether or not I’m going to finish the Banchan, the meat arrives, and its enough for two. I resign myself to a Doggie bag, when the Soup arrives. I’d say it was about two cups worth, followed by two cups of rice in it’s bowl.
Worse, as I’m knocking out my plates of Banchan, the Waitstaff is coming by and giving me more. What the—?? Chosun doesn’t do that.
This is a lot of freakin’ food. Add in a Coke and I paid a hair over $20 bucks for it all.
PARKING: Okay, this was the one drawback. Parking can be awful.
Don’t get me wrong. The Landlord left plenty of spaces to park , but good luck finding one as this Strip Mall is waaaaay popular. You will be driving around a while, hoping for a space. When I went, it was that crowded. There may be places along East Las Tunas, but that’s a crap shoot. Park in the lot, but be patient, there is a lot of turnover.
Young Dong Tofu House
927 E. Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91778
Tel: (626) 286-6031
Sunday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm