Beverly Soon Tofu (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Here is the last of my meal reports from our trip to Los Angeles in late-December. And I’m ending with our last meal out, at one of the great institutions of Koreatown: Beverly Soon Tofu. As it’s located on Olympic Blvd. and is owned by Monica Lee, you might wonder why it’s called Beverly Soon Tofu. Well, it started out on Beverly Blvd. in 1986 before moving to the present location—well, I’m not sure when that was. And adding to the semiotic confusion of the name is the fact that their external signage proclaims their name to be Beverly Tofu House. Best not to worry about all this too much and just sit down and order a bowl of their soon tofu/soon dubu (or soft tofu stew). It’s hard to order much else as their menu is limited and very focused on variations of soon tofu. 

There are, of course, plenty of other places in Koreatown to get a bowl of soon dubu. The BCD Tofu House chain has a number of locations and used to be my destination of convenience when I worked in Koreatown in the early 2000s—the Wilshire/Western location was right opposite my office building. On our trips back to L.A, when we’re eating with large groups—which is typically the case when we go out for Korean food (as it usually involves multiple members of the extended family)—and want to eat soon dubu we usually end up at BCD. This is because BCD is huge and can take large groups. Beverly Soon Tofu, on the other hand, is small and even if you’re in a tiny group you are most probably going to be in for a wait.

This wait will be longer on weekends. We went on a Thursday evening, not too long after 6 pm, and still had to wait a bit. I wouldn’t advise heading towards anywhere in Koreatown around 6 pm on a weeknight anyway—this is something only people who live/work in the vicinity of Beverly Soon Tofu should do. Our Koreatown base is just a mile or so away and so there we were. It was just the four of us.

Most Korean restaurants are very easy with our boys—as long as either galbi or sullung tang or galbi tang are available, they can be relied upon to consume vast quantities without any hassle. Luckily, Beverly Soon Tofu has galbi, and it’s pretty good too. We got a sizzling platter of it for the boys and they ate most of it with rice. The missus and I got soon dubu: she got the fish egg (cod roe) with vegetable; I got the seafood combo (oyster, mussel, clam, shrimp). You can get them at various heat settings—we each got ours hot. Everything was very good—though the roe in the missus’s soon dubu was a trifle overcooked. If there’s a knock against Beverly Soon Tofu, it might be that their banchan are relatively pedestrian (you’ll certainly get less vanilla selections at BCD) but the banchan is not what you’re here for.

For pictures of the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below (all pictures taken on my phone). Scroll down for price etc.

 

All of this came to about $65 with tax and tip. Which is par for the course in Koreatown. I will say that service here is better than the default “indifferent and/or absent” at most Koreatown establishments—the small size may have something to do with that. And the food was all very good. If you live in L.A. and somehow have never been, you should do it. Monica Lee is not a spring chicken anymore and as her children will apparently not follow in her footsteps, it’s not clear if Beverly Soon Tofu will be around forever. And if you’re visiting L.A. and would like to try a piece of classic Koreatown, you can’t go wrong here.

I’d hoped we’d back in L.A. this summer but it now looks like it might not happen till the winter. Until then my restaurant reports will largely be from Minnesota—with another Scotland and London interregnum if the British consulate sees fit to grant me another visa. Next week, I’ll have a report of a high-end meal from the Twin Cities—well, I will if the weather tomorrow cooperates. And I’ll soon start posting recipes again as well.

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