Saturday, March 22, 2008

Food Junkie #3: Sundubu Jigae (Soon Tofu)

Soon Tofu & BBQ Pork combo from ILMI Tofu House

If you like something hot and spicy Asian food, you have probably eaten Sundubu Jigae or spicy stew from South Korea (wiki). If you go to a Korean restaurant, 99.9% of the time they have it on the menu. Sundubu is one of my favorite spicy dishes of all time.

This spicy stew comes in a clay pot while it's still boiling. When they bring you a spicy one (many restaurants have spice levels), it is apparent to anyone's eyes that is is damn spicy. It's red, bright red. My tongue can take very spicy stuff and my stomach can bear with it as well. But, my intestine is not immune to the craziness so I would usually order spice level 7-8 if the hottest one is 10. If I go higher, I would enjoy the soup but then the next day I would feel like I have a large-size sparkling firecracker stuck in my ass. Unless you know your entire body can take it for sure, I would suggest you order the same level.

Anyways, aside from the goodness of the spiciness of chili powder and paste, what makes this soup enjoyable is tofu that is extremely soft and delicate. This is not "silk" tofu we see in an ordinary grocery store. The softness of tofu in Sunbubu is comparable to a flan. The texture is so smooth that sometimes it feels like the tofu melts in your mouth (but don't try to roll it on your tongue or it could give it a burn. It's very hot).

I tried to make Sundubu at home a few times but I never succeeded. Something is different. I've asked a few Korean friends but they said the same thing. Even their moms and grandmas can't make it quite as same as ones you get in restaurants. I guess I'd have to keep going back to restaurants to eat good ones...

Anyways, there are a few Korean restaurants I go often to eat Sundubu in LA area, but I don't know any place that's specialized in Sundubu... Ones I go are decent but not particularly great... I go there because it's fairly close to where I live or work. Let me know if you know good Sundubu specialty place.

1001 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
Vermont and Olympic in K-town.
Open 24/7. Avoid 1am - 3am since the place will be packed with people coming from clubbing. Parking space limited.

Tofu House
3575 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
Open 24/7. Plenty of parking space. Sometimes they close temporarily while cleaning around midnight.

ILMI Tofu House (Formally known as ILMI Sushi & Sashimi Bar)
818 N Pacific Ave Ste L, Glendale
Right off 134 Pacific exit.
Open daily 10am - 11pm.
Very friendly staff. They give out free frozen yogurt... pretty damn yummy :)


nic said...

oh we are so going there!
Happy Easter foo!

jeshka said...

i think i have had something like this in downtown la near the wiltern......hmmmmm

YouKeyOh said...

Happy be-lated Easter back at you!
Ya we'll go there to test your iron stomach! Make time or I'll raid your place with hot pot!

How was it? Did you like it?

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