Friday, January 25, 2008

Ask A Korean! News: Tofu Queen

On the other side of the continent, there is an LA Times article about the restauranteur who owns a chain of wildly successful tofu restaurants across Southern California. Soondubu (spicy tofu soup) is something that is decidedly missing in the East Coast Korean food, and the Korean cannot believe that it's taking this long for the dish to make across the continent.

One odd thing that the Korean noticed: the ajumma who owns the restaurant is 48, but her husband is 70! There has to be some crazy story behind it -- that type of arrangement is not common in Koreans that age. It appears that her husband was independently wealthy, and bankrolled much of the restaurant's operation. How the hell could the lady commute from Las Vegas to Los Angeles every day otherwise, relying only on one restaurant? That sort of puts a damper on the story of small business' success through hard work, doesn't it?

(One more aside: how much would you be willing to bet that the lady drives either a Benz or a Lexus?)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. Soon doo boo can be found on the East Coast (and outside of Manhattan). I actually had to choose between that and ra myun for lunch today (lack of another dollar meant ra myun won). I think part of it maybe that the area of Philly/suburbs I live is has a large Korean population, but there's a food truck at Temple that sells it (and she makes her own kimchi), and one of the shops in the Assi food court. Plus all the other awesome food that reaches past bar snacks. (I'm majorly in love with duk boki, although jjangmyun gets the cold out.)

  2. bcd in LA is one of the favorite spot for flight attendants, from Koreans to Japanese flight attendants, It is a 'must' during layover in LA. Everything taste just a tad sweet, but I think that's how they like in LA. The price is reasonable, for 13 dollars(during lunch), you can have pot of soon do bu, stone pot rice, calbee, and small jogi(yellow fish?).

  3. Eris,

    What the Korean meant is Soondubu sold in a restaurant that specializes soondubu, not a part of a general fare. The Korean has never really explored Korean restaurants in Philly so he cannot say for sure, but somehow he doubts there is such a thing. And although dukbokki is technically not a bar snack, it's a snack for children. It has no place when one discusses Korean cuisine.


    The place that the Korean goes in Cerritos is a little less sweeter than BCD -- the Korean cannot stand sweetness in Korean food. It's interesting to see that farther one is away from LA, the sweeter Korean food becomes. And Jogi is yellow croaker in English.

  4. There's a restaurant in East Nashville called the So Gong Dong Tofu House, and they specialize in a tofu-based soup.

    So either I have enjoyed soondubu before, or it's something completely different.

    The closest Japanese restaurant to me is owned by a Korean family, and they have a small selection of Korean dishes including a very tasty jajangmyun.

    I have read that jajangmyun is considered Chinese food in Korea. I should probably submit that as a separate question though...

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  6. fleshrender,

    jajangmyun is Chinese food in Korea, as much as pizza is Italian food in US.

    In order to trace the root of jajangmyun, go to your favorite authentic Chinese restaurant and order "Dan Dan Noodle".

  7. when i was in washington dc, i met up with a friend that took me to an awesome soon dubu place in the ktown of the area... but i forgot the name. all i know is it's in virginia.

    bcd is so overrated. their soon dubu used to be better, but now i only eat it when i have to choose between it and hodori for late night nourishment.

  8. I used to live in the Chicago area until recently (actually, I grew up and attended school through my undergraduate education there), and I know of at least two very good soon-dubu places in the suburbs. Soooooo goood. Not that expensive either (certainly not $13, but more like $8-$10 a bowl).

  9. However, I have yet to find a place on the East Coast (right now I'm in school in New Jersey).

  10. That article cracked me up.... her "secret recipe" my ass. Soondubo is one of the easiest dishes to make. The soup base itself is just chili powder and anchovey powder.


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