BCD Tofu House - Irvine
Is there anything more satisfying during cold wet weather than Korean soft tofu soup? I think not. If you've read this blog for a while, you might have anticipated this post. With a few exceptions, I eat in accordance to weather conditions, and when it comes to soondubu, I'm of the opinion that it tastes best when you're freezing, and thus should be reserved until the thermometer reads south of 70 degrees and the roads are slicked with rain.
This week, with the local newscasts hyping its StormWatch coverage, BCD Tofu House was the place for us to have it. We ran in a few nights ago, straight from work, hands shielding our heads from the downpour. Our damp, wind-chilled faces were ready to be defrosted by slurps of hot soup. And out it came, served out of a thick, cast iron pot in which it was simmered in -- a red, chili-spiked broth sputtering and boiling like an angered volcano goddess out to avenge. We cracked a raw egg into it like a virgin sacrifice. It swallowed it, gulped it in. We did the same with the soup.
We scooped out spoonful after quivering spoonful of the bean curd, blowing on it before we passed the white, soybean nectar through our lips. Then we sipped the thin, scalding brew. Beads of perspiration began to form on my brow. It took five minutes for me to go from hypothermia to toasty warm to sweating.
The kimchi helped me along. Other panchan side dishes -- like the cold, marinated baby bok choy -- refreshed.
Shortly thereafter, a particularly unctuous but chewy kalbi arrived in a tall stack (it was a part of a combo we ordered to share) itself heated on a bed of onions sizzling on blazing cast iron plate. A yellow croaker, a whole tiny fish battered and deep fried, was nice too -- another protein to mash into the steamed rice.
There was also cucumber covered in gochuchang, bean sprouts marinated in sesame oil -- all prefunctory dishes we've come to expect from places like this, but nothing that we haven't seen done better or with more variety elsewhere. Irvine, after all, is a town with no shortage of Korean soft tofu restaurants. There are at least six. BCD is part of an L.A. chain, but this newest outlet at Irvine's Diamond Jamboree distinguishes itself by being one of a few things that is open 24-7 in the city.
Service, as a consequence, is less than obsequious. What's done is what's required: they take your order, give you your food, and later, the check. Water is only refilled when you ask (they give you a jug). And I'm not sure they are inclined to give you more panchan if you request it. But the soup was there: all that we needed, exactly when we needed it. And that's all that mattered.
BCD Tofu House
2700 Alton Pkwy, Ste 135
Irvine, CA 92606
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
House of Kabob - Irvine