I've been hard pressed to find one common spelling for that ultimate Korean comfort soup, sundubu. Or, as I've seen it spelled on menus, soon-tofu.
Mountain, a new Korean eatery in Gardena's Tozai Plaza, spells it soon-dooboo. I ordered the soon-dooboo chigae, or as Wikipedia has it listed, sundubu jjigae. No matter how you spell it, the light but satisfying concoction is full of buttery soft tofu, a variety of shellfish, and a spicy but not overwhelming broth. Tradition dictates a raw egg, broken into the boiling soup when it arrives at the table. But my favorite part of a sundubu/soon-dooboo/soon tofu meal is the banchan.
Any way you spell it, Korean tofu soup is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
While kim chee - or kimchi - is often thought of as spicy pickled cabbage, any vegetable can be made into kim chee, at varying levels of heat. Dylan and I were served the requisite cabbage and daikon varieties, along with the inevitable potato salad. As the blandest thing on the table, this made for a good palate cleanser. But the most surprising banchan was a bowl of what would be best described as caramelized tidbits of beef in broth, an unusual prelude to the fiery soups we were anticipating.
Tongyeong "tapas" - banchan can be a meal in itself.
Mountain prides itself on health conscious ingredients. They even offer dishes that are considered great remedies for colds (and hangovers. Yelpers - who call the Koreatown location "Mountain Cafe" - are fervent believers in the restorative powers of abalone porridge and the sam geah tang, which is chicken ginseng soup.
They even offer a choice of white or brown rice, which always gets bonus points from me. Except that the "brown" rice was highlighted by a lovely shade of purple. Like the elusive common spellings for tofu soup, the jury is out on what gives this rice the color of a penny loafer. Luckily, it's a whole lot tastier than one.
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