March 19, 2013
Even though I don’t mention it often enough on this blog, I adore Korean food. I consider Korean food to be one of my favorite cuisines and soondubu, in particular, to be one of the ultimate comfort foods, just one step below home-cooked meals from the mom. It’s surprising that I feel so strongly about both seeing that I was only introduced to Korean food relatively recently (when compared to the other staples in my life). However, I have no doubt that my love stems from that first Korean meal a little more than 10 years ago…
First, to preface: the parents are not “foodies” by any means. They can eat the same thing for lunch and dinner week after week and be perfectly content. They definitely don’t go out of their way for food.
However, when my extended family came in town that particular weekend and we began playing the “Where should we go for dinner?” game, they decided that we would drive almost an hour to BCDs for dinner. (At the time, they had never had Korean tofu themselves either. Since then though, they have embraced soondubu as closely as I have.)
My memory is honestly a bit blurry but what I do remember vividly is this:
Hunger in my stomach before dinner.
Relief and satisfaction upon that first bite of bubbling tofu and rice.
Warmth from being surrounded by family, now happy and full.
Peace in being exactly where I wanted to be.
That bowl of tofu was “home”.
Eating soondubu at Beverly Soon Tofu transports me back to that moment.
When I was still working in public accounting, there were nights when I felt like I was going to collapse (physically, mentally, emotionally)…those were the nights I’d go to Beverly Soon Tofu.
I’d walk into that small and homey restaurant just off of Olympic and Vermont and hide myself in the corner, behind an old wood table. I always ordered the same thing: Seafood soondubu. Spicy.
The nice women working there would then bring barley water and banchan. The banchan was simple but comforting, somewhat ordinary but absolutely delicious.
Soon after the banchan, the soondubu would arrive, piping hot and about to bubble over the sides. With a bowl of rice in one hand and a spoon in the other, I would dig into the silky tofu filled with plump mussels and clams and tender squid and octopus. I would crunch on small shrimp and slurp the runny yolk of an egg. I would shovel banchan, tofu and rice into my mouth until my belly was full, until my body was warm…until I felt like I did after that very first bowl. Even if it was just for a split second, I was at peace and I was happy.
TL;DR: Sometimes food is more than just food. It can transport you.
Beverly Soon Tofu
2717 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006