Friday, November 22, 2013

A Couple Nights In LA

 I'll go years without eating it, but every now and then (sometimes for months on end) I'll crave the bubbling hot, flavorful stew known as soon tofu (or soondubu). Basically a chili broth supporting soft fresh tofu and a choice of flavorings (I like kimchi for the double chili hit but pork, seafood, and dumplings are all good choices) the spicy stew is reportedly an American invention that migrated back to the motherland from Los Angeles' Koreatown. Home to the largest Korean population outside of Seoul, LA's Koreatown hosts a collection of small restaurants specializing in the perfect for rainy day (yes they even had ether in LA) food.
Although it's not generally on the most popular list, BCD tofu (pictured above) is a mini chain open 24 hours (I love this stuff for breakfast) that serves a more than respectable bowl with good collection of "pan chan" the array of side dishes traditional in Korean restaurants. Diners in every tofu house are offered a raw egg to poach in the bubbling stew. Say yes. The creamy yolk is the perfect foil to the signature Korean chile paste.
Always in competition with Beverly Tofu House across the street for best soon tofu in LA, So Kong Dong is not pretty. The absolutely no frills dining room (if you can call it that) off a constantly crowded parking lot is worth the trip for their superior broth. I like to dip spoonfuls of rice into the stunning red soup to savor every bit of delicious chile.
Since I first started skulking around Koreatown nearly 20 years ago the faces of the diners around me have changed but the food remains comfortingly familiar and refreshingly foreign.

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