One thing I learned about the Korean cuisine of soondubu (Korean Tofu Soup) is that one little thing can really triggered off the wrong reaction.
My favorite place growing up was in the city of Cerritos called Cho Dang Tofu. My fondest memory of that place was that it would served this perfectly made tofu that is smooth in skin texture, mixed in the right amount of spicy chili, and garnered around all the tasty meat and vegetables that comes around it. Then it would be accompanied by an enriched purple steamed rice that is perfect to go along with the awesome soondubu.
The dream shattered when the Establishment changed ownership a few times. Then I endured countless of places that either served the tofu that was "too salty" or just "too plain". Then the amount of spiciness of tofu would be so badly off that you might not been able to taste the so-called tofu. You might as well just wondered if you have just swallowed the entire chili. I hate to be so pessimistic because I almost thought I need to travel to Korea to get that taste of soondubu because I haven't gotten one that was just right.
Entire Beverly Soon Tofu House in Koreatown.
This place was recommended along with So Kong Dong Tofu after I read EatDrinkBeMerry's comparison between the two. On a whim I decided to check out the places after a dying need to find out if it's true if my dream can be restore.
Right away, the restaurant felt like a lot of Korean Tofu houses I had been to lately. Most reminded of you of some beer house setting in a village with cool crafted wooden bench & table for the dining room. It's very small as it can only accommodate about 8-10 different group. I can't see a large party been seated here.
Amazingly I was happy to see a beautiful arrangement of different banchans (side dishes to the main course). It had a beautiful arrangement of Kongnamul (bean sprouts), kimchi, cool cucumber pickles, Agedashi Tofu, soy sauced yams, spicy potato, and a peppered green vegetable. I guess if you want to call this a starter or an appetizer, then by all mean these little dishes will do the trick.
One of the greatest thing in the world whenever I'm about to receive the hot pot of the tofu soup was that I get to see the egg boiled in the soup. All you have to do was just stir it to be cook in that very hot temperature. On the above picture, you do see an egg along with the banchans. When the tofu soup arrives, you just need to crack the egg and pop into the soup.
I decided to order one of their combo where I can get a tofu of my choice along with a side order of galbi short beef ribs. There were about a dozen choices of different tofu soup you could have ordered and I decided to go with the ever popular choice of the seafood tofu and the short beef ribs for $15.95.
As you can see from the picture above, it was still boiling hot and smoke was coming out of the metal pot for a few minutes longer. I mixed the tofu around to stirred the egg and also to dissect the tofu into smaller pieces. What's even better was that I get to decide which spicy level I want for the tofu. Needless to say I chickened out of the "very spicy" and went with the safe choice of "medium" instead.
After the first few morsels of the hot tofu into my mouth, I can honestly say that my faith in going to a good soondubu house in LA has been restored. The tofu was very smooth and savory that almost felt like silk. I guess that's how tofu should be made, not creamy or wet like a soft serve ice cream.
Even though the tofu soup has chili to make it spicy, it was not overpowered with the powder paste as you can actually tasted the tofu. The soup was neither watered down or too creamy by being cute with some unnecessary broth. Thank goodness they didn't over done the pot with unnecessary ingredients and let the tofu be the main attraction in the pot.
The two pieces of galbi short beef ribs were cut into six smaller biteable pieces. You can still see the steam of smoke come from the hot plate. Luckily it wasn't overcooked and was not too well done. I would say about medium well by the time I decide to pick up the first piece of the meat. It was not bad, but then again I wasn't expecting too much with the short beef ribs.
Overall, it did restored my faith in finding a soondubu house to my liking. Too bad, I have to travel all the way to Koreatown because it does take almost 30 minutes to get here. The good news? In case you get boogled down, So Kong Dong Tofu is across the street which is another place I recommend.
For $15.95, excluding sales tax and tips, this meal was worth it the travel to Koreatown. I just wish they can expand a franchise to SE area of LA.
Note: Review of Song Kong Dong Tofu will be coming.