In a recent episode of Anthony Bourdain’s new show on CNN, Parts Unknown, he showcased a small but culture-rich section of Los Angeles known as Koreatown. To sample some Korean specialties Bourdain ventured to Beverly Soon, a non-descript store in a strip mall located on Koreatown’s southern edge. San Diego isn’t far from Los Angeles, but if you’re not in the mood for a drive and want to experience excellent Korean-American cuisine locally, head over to Tofu House in Linda Vista where there’s a little piece of San Diego’s Asian community waiting.
If you find yourself saying, “I’m not a fan of tofu,” don’t knock it until you try it. The tofu varieties and variations at Tofu House are endless and delectable. The highlight of any Tofu House visit has to be one of the many soups, which can be ordered as spicy as desired (go very mild if you can’t tolerate high amounts of heat) and always come served straight off the stove in a sizzling stone pot. This is a bubbling mouth-burning throat-scalding soup that’s hot enough to cook an egg—literally. On every table in Tofu House visitors can find a basket of 4 eggs; take 1 (or more) and it crack it into the boiling soup which cooks on the spot and mixes easily with the other meat, seafood, vegetables, or tofu in the soup. Traditionally the tasty soups are eaten spooned over white or brown rice and are especially welcome on a rainy day.
If the San Diego sunshine doesn’t have you in the mood for boiling soup, Tofu House has many other options. Try one of the fried rice bowls, hot stone mixed rice, or cooked fish. Every table also receives an assortment of starter plates (Banchan) to share including spicy kimchi and pickled vegetables. Beverages include the standard soda and tea fare, although there is free punch or lemonade available.
As you might expect Tofu House is a tiny place with an even tinier parking lot shared with several other eateries and stores. The wait can be long during lunchtime, as there are only about 20 tables available, but always worth it as the food never fails to satisfy.