While I tend to plan meals in advance, I hadn't thought of anything for the Wednesday night after my violin lesson. (I'm no Andrew Bird; it's a beginner class for adults and I'm pretty sure every time I squeak, somewhere in the world an adorable kitten drops dead because that's just how the world equalizes itself.) Kåre met me outside my class's building at 8:30 p.m. Where would we go from there?
KOREATOWN. FOR THE LATE NIGHT TOFUS. It was just by chance that we passed BCD Tofu House while trolling down 32nd Street, and the only reason it registered in my head was because my friend Lauren recommended it to me. Since Kåre had never eaten Korean tofu soup before, I had no choice but to expose him to the glories of burning hot, spicy broth laden with feather-light soy milk curds.
I went for the curry; he went for the dumplings.
But first, there was banchan. Loads of it. Probably more than I've gotten from anywhere else. Kåre was understandably baffled by the army of dishes placed before us that we didn't order. While he was thinking, "WTF?" I was more like, "HOLY SHIT YAAAY!!" Various types of kimchi, broccoli seasoned with sesame oil, crisp bean sprouts, a spicy soup of some sort, fried fish cakes, and—my favorite—a whole fried fish for each of us. Head-to-tail goodness of soft, sweet flesh, that is. The bones didn't even get in the way, as they were soft enough to eat. I've never received a fried fish as banchan anywhere else; it was lovely.
Another first was the heavy box of long-handled metal spoons on every table. Some places have napkin holders; BCD has smooth, ivory coffin-like spoon boxes.
Few things are as comforting as a bubbling mini-cauldron of curry tofu stew. Instead of traditional kimchi-flavored stews, this one tasted like...curry. No surprises there. I cracked in a raw egg for more tastiness and swirled it around to cook. Soft egg bits and soft tofu chunks were difficult to tell apart, but it's more about texture than taste anyway. There ain't nothing like bunny-soft proteiny clumps in burning hot soup slurped down with spoonfuls of rice to comfort the belly.
Unlike my jaundiced stew, Kåre's dumpling tofu stew was red with kimchi and chili paste and whatever other spicy red things that may have fallen in.
I didn't try the dumpling, but it looked like this.
Go, Kåre! You can do it!
After all that spicy soup filled with chunks of awesome, we were given bowls of the dregs from the mother rice bowl covered in a grain-based tea. Think "bland tea soup with rice bits." Which is what it tasted like. If we were supposed to do something to make it taste less like bland tea soup with rice bits, please let us know, for we are not the most educated Korean food-eaters.
After waving our white flags signaling the uncomfortable distension of our bellies, our table looked like a killing field of body parts. Colorful, delicious body parts in little receptacles.
While I heard the BCD in New York isn't as good as its West Coast locations, it's still damn tasty. I'm definitely going back.
Kåre Week, Day 5 and 6: Home Cooking, Over-Porked at Minca, and Soft Serve Sundaes
Kåre Week, Day 4: Dim Sum, Random Art, and Arepas
Kåre Week, Day 3: Dumont Burger, Midtown Horrors, and BBQ (Fried) Chicken
Kåre Week, Day 2 (Part 2): Lower Manhattan Tour, Bubble Tea, and Sonia Rose
Kåre Week, Day 2 (Part 1): Freakin' Sweet Lunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Riding the Staten Island Ferry
Kåre Week, Day 1: Falafels at Taim