Tag Archives: Korean Food

Tofu, the Other White Meat

My wife is going to kill me for blogging about this place and letting more people in on our secret. Tofu Ya is one of our family’s favorites and we go to this cozy little restaurant about once a week. It is the only Korean restaurant in a sea of Japanese eateries on Sawtelle Boulevard in West LA just north of Olympic (aka “Little Osaka” or “Japantown West”). They specialize in Soon Tofu, an incredibly delicious spicy tofu soup that they prepare in about 10 different ways including with seafood, beef, pork, dumpling (my favorite), chicken, kimchee or mushroom. The Soon Tofu is served to you bubbling hot in clay pots with an optional raw egg which you immediately crack open and cook in the soup. You also tell them how spicy (or mild) you want it. The meal starts with complimentary Banchan (small plates of traditional Korean appetizers) such as kimchi, marinated cucumbers and broccoli, glass noodles and fishcakes. They also serve very good Korean barbecue including Kalbi (shortribs) and Pork Bolgogi (my favorite; sweet and spicy barbecued pork). The best way to experience Tofu Ya is to get a combo with a small bowl of Soon Tofu and either one of the barbecued meats or the Dolsot Bibimbap (traditional Korean rice dish served in a clay pot).

There is nothing better than a piping hot bowl of Soon Tofu on a cold or rainy night! The cherry on top is that Tofu Ya is surprisingly inexpensive. After dinner, we like to visit one of the many dessert places on Sawtelle like Beard Papa, a Japanese bakery specializing in cream puffs. There are also many unique stores to check out on Sawtelle before or after your meal, such Black Market (best place in all of LA to buy cool t-shirts), Giant Robot Store (collectible vinyl toys, art books and graphic novels) and Tokyo Japanese Outlet (all kinds of cool Japanese imports). It’s also fun to explore the aisles of Nijiya Market, a Japanese grocery store with all kinds of interesting Japanese foods. And you could hit up the street’s Karaoke bars for sake shots and the obligatory duet of “I Got You Babe” if you’re so inclined…

Tofu Ya is located at 2021 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles (in West LA).

Banchan (Korean appetizers)

Sweet and Spicy Pork Bulgogi


A cozy little place

Tofu Ya on Urbanspoon

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Filed under West LA

The Korean Spicy Crab Soup Place That You Probably Don’t Know About and Will Absolutely Love

I don’t think a lot of non-Koreans know about Ondal 2, which is one of my favorite restaurants in LA. Dining there is a very special and unique experience involving incredibly delicious food. There are many things on the menu, but let’s not waste our time here. When you go to Ondal 2, you have to order the Spicy Crab Soup plus optional “Korean Pasta” course and optional rice course. I would recommend ordering the soup medium spicy (or even medium/mild) unless you have a super high tolerance for spicy food.

After you order, put on your apron (yes, that’s right — apron!) and let the fun begin. Since this is a Korean restaurant, the first thing they bring you is Banchan (small plates of assorted appetizers), which are excellent here and much more unusual than the typical appetizers you get in most Korean restaurants in LA. These appetizers include scallion pancake, spicy chili-coated raw crab legs, whole grilled mackerel pike, sugared seaweed, egg custard and, of course, kimchee. Soon after you’ve gotten started with the Banchan, they bring over a large pot of the Spicy Crab Soup, which will continue cooking on the burner in the middle of your table. This soup is incredibly flavorful and the yummy crab broth is chock full of crab pieces (in the shell), vegetables and exotic sea squirts. During this part of the meal, in addition to the soup, the waiter will serve you crab shells stuffed with crab meat and rice, which he prepares tableside for each person in your party.

After you’ve eaten your full of crab soup, a woman will come over to your table to begin the “Korean Pasta” portion of your meal. She adds some water to the remaining soup and then hand rips pieces of dough and tosses them into the soup to cook. After the pieces of dough have firmed up and soaked up the delicious crab soup, you pull them out with a ladle or chopsticks and enjoy a truly excellent dish of “Korean Pasta.” For the next course, they empty out all of the remaining soup and cook a really tasty fried rice dish in the pot with a special sauce, kimchee, onions and other vegetables. Make sure to keep the rice in the pot long enough to form a crispy bottom, which is my favorite part. In addition to preparing the rice, they bring you a small bowl of cold “pickle juice” and the idea is to alternate every spoon of the hot rice dish with a spoon of cold pickle juice. The flavors and temperatures complement each other beautifully; it is genius! For the finale, they bring everyone at the table an icy bowl of sweet rice water, a light and traditional Korean dessert. When the meal is over, you will be very full, but I bet you will be back because this is a truly awesome place!

Ondal 2 is located at 4566 W Washington Blvd in Los Angeles.

Assorted Korean appetizers

Making pasta, Korean-style

Korean Pasta cooked in the Spicy Crab Soup

Yummy hot rice dish served with cold "pickle juice"

Ondal 2 on Urbanspoon


Filed under Mid-City