Happy belated BC Day everyone! If this is your home, I hope your long weekend was filled with BBQs, beach time, and adoration of this fair province we live in. I must say, even with the number of times I’ve moved away from it, I always come back to this tall stretch of land hugging both the Pacific and the Rockies. I think you’re pretty rad, British Columbia.
One thing that made yesterday a little tricky was the number of restaurants that were closed for the holiday, and because of this my first plan went kaput. I therefore decided to embark on my second Bykle-Upon adventure, the first one resulting in the discovery of Casa Pinoy and it’s outrageously good leche flan.
While enjoying a bike ride south down Garden City Road (which has a great bike lane, by the way), the sky clouded over and the rain’s near arrival was announced by a chill in the air. Just a day before, the idea of soup would have seemed ludicrous, but suddenly I was braking hard at the sight of a “HOUSE OF TOFU SOUP” sign strung up on the west side of the road. I walked my bike around to the front of the complex, and was happy to discover the blinking “Open” sign on.
The restaurant’s interior is a large, open, cleanly laid-out space, though I literally had no idea what kind of Asian food they served, except that there’d be soup with tofu in it.
Upon reading the menu it soon became clear that the food was Korean, and my uber-friendly server helped me order. I went with the soup + bulgogi combination for $14.99. For the soups, you choose your desired level of heat and pick one of 7 options that go in with the broth and tofu (beef, pork, seafood, mixed, kimchi, mushrooms, or vegetable dumplings). I chose the dumplings with Regular spice, and the beef bulgogi, though pork and chicken are also on offer. Bulgogi is thinly sliced and marinated meat, traditionally beef, that’s either grilled or fried. It had a sweet flavour, and the dish is finished with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Just a few minutes after ordering, my server arrived with a spread of snacks and condiments; there was sweet pumpkin soup, kimchi, a hard-boiled egg (or so I thought), a scoop of cold mashed potatoes with corn, pickled radish, and marinated seaweed.
I snacked on everything as I waited for my soup, eventually coming to the egg. I picked it up, cracked it firmly against the bottom of the bowl to loosen the shell, and was shocked as raw egg came pouring out all over my hand. I think my jaw actually hit the floor, I was so surprised. I started laughing because I found my own ignorance hilarious, then laughed some more because I was sitting at a table by myself, laughing. Seriously, even though I was dining solo, I had the most fun table in the house.
My server came along a few minutes later with my soup, still at a rolling boil, and set it down before me.
She saw my yolky-bowl, nodded affirmatively, and said “Yes, the egg goes into the soup,” as if complimenting me on having gotten it ready to go beforehand. Of course she knew better, and was just being kind. I nodded yes, then resisted the urge to get up and hug her.
She next brought a heavy stone bowl of rice, which she dished out into a metal container at the table. Then she took my pot of green tea and poured it over the crunchy bits stuck at the bottom, and told me this was a traditional Korean dessert, “for after.” So informative – thank you, my wonderful server!
The bulgogi arrived shortly thereafter, sizzling on a cast-iron pan, and I couldn’t help but laugh again as I looked at the NINE plates on the table before me. Oh well, when in Seoul.
The soup broth was red and spicy (I would never go hotter than Regular, though my tolerance is rather weak), and was filled with soft, fresh tofu, and delicate, vegetable-filled dumplings.
They were very good, not overcooked despite being in the hot soup, and folded with dough that reminded me of perogies. The bulogogi was sweet and addictive, especially when paired with the kimchi and mashed potatoes. All in all, it was an incredible value (my meal came to $16 and could have easily fed two people), and I would definitely go back. It’s a casual, friendly, and easy way to eat Korean, and has yet again sparked my craving for kimchi. I really ought to try making some myself…..and perhaps someday make a pilgrimage to the Kimchi Museum!?
Another successful Bykle-Upon. I wonder where it will lead me next…..
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian (and likely vegan) options available.