Looking for Soon Tofu (Tofu Soup) but not anywhere near Koreatown?
You would think it was a Denny’s, a nice Denny’s…if you weren’t looking too carefully from the outside. Of course it’s not. I’m a food blogger, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Denny’s.
Granted, it’s spiffy. It’s shiny. It looks brand new, but in reality…folks just take real good care of it.
It is Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ in Alhambra.
Now, of course Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ serves, guess what…Soon Tofu (Tofu Soup) and the occasional bits of grilled meat alongside. I don’t know, but for some reason I only have enough room for the Soup when I come to these places. A bowl, some Banchan, and I’m done.
So I walk in. Get a booth for one, and slide comfortably in. And…
Man, this place is clean.
Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ is…without a doubt the most modern and gleaming of Soon Tofu places I’ve been too, and yes…I’m having a hard time processing that. It’s just…
Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ is also the largest Soon Tofu place I’ve even been into. I can’t say it’s as large as Noodle World (that was just stupid big) but it’s pretty big. I can only imagine the cavernous kitchen they’ve got back there, flash-boiling up massive quantities of Tofu Soup. But since Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ isn’t offering tours, I’ll have to settle for imagination.
It’s not a bad Soon Tofu place. It’s not as good as Beverly or BCD. It’s not even as good as either of the Young Dong’s I’ve been to. But if you want to get a bowl, if you want a cheap and decently tasty lunch, and you’re in the Alhambra area, you can swing this.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, you’re in a Soon Tofu place, so hopefully…
There are a lot of varieties of Soon Tofu at Oo-Kook, and some of them seem…well…Americanized.
Yes, there was a Ham and Cheese Tofu soup, and…well…I gotta admit I was tempted. So I asked my Server about it. “I’m thinking about the Beef and Kimchi…but what do you know about this Ham and Cheese?”
He looked at me with an expression of “Dude, for real?”
I looked back at him. “Yeah, I know. What was I thinking?”
In truth, he actually just said he preferred the Beef and Kimchi, so Beef and Kimchi it was.
Now for me, the Soon Tofu veteran all of a year, I have my preferences. I prefer having Pork and Kimchi varieties when it comes to Tofu Soup. So Beef and Kimchi was…a bit different. I’m sure I’ve seen it on other menus. Granted, I gravitate naturally (as one does) toward Pork, and…well…this choice isn’t…on Oo-Kook’s menu, so…again…Beef it is.
Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ makes some pretty good Soon Tofu. For me, it wasn’t as potent as the stuff I had at Beverly’s or BCD…or even Young Dang. Still, I like Tofu, and like Pizza even when Tofu Soup is bad, it’s still pretty good. And the stuff I had at Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ wasn’t anywhere near bad.
The Banchan selection was also pretty good. The usual suspects were there: Kimchi, Cucumber Kimchi, Bean Sprouts, Pickled Seaweed, Green Onion Omelet and a completely fried white fish. (That is a White Fish, right?). They were all nice, tasty, flavorful, though not the spiciest varieties of Kimchi, but…eh, whatever. I was just happy to have them.
Also, it should be noted, that Oo-Kook serves their Soon Tofu on some rather interesting looking, interesting taste–
Oh hell, they serve it with Purple Rice.
I have no idea what grain they use to make this rice. I have no idea what makes it purple. All I can say is…it feels like Brown Rice, tastes closer (though not all the way) to White Rice. It’s an advertising point with Oo-Kook. Is it a reason to drive out of your way to Alhambra to nibble on it? Ehh, not so much. But it’s okay. After all, it’s rice.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: You mean other than the Purple Rice thing? Yeah, there’s not much to report here.
PARKING: Free and decently plentiful. Oo-Kook is in the far, far corner of a Shopping complex (featuring a Costco if that helps). There are always plenty of parking spaces. It just depends on how many extra feet you have to walk. You’ll be fine.
Oo-Kook Tofu & BBQ
2201 W. Commonwealth Ave.
Alhambra, CA 91803
Tel: (626) 289-8494
Daily: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm