The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Kåre Week, Day 7: Banchan and Korean Tofu Stew at BCD

Note: This entry originally took place on October 22.

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?

The sign, it glows
Guess what's inside? TOFUS.

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.

tofu soup menu

I went for the curry; he went for the dumplings.

Kåre is like, WTF is all this
Eat it.

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.

curry tofu stew
Stew, for me!

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.

dumpling tofu stew
More stew.

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.

dumpling innards

I didn't try the dumpling, but it looked like this.

Kåre nom noms

Go, Kåre! You can do it!

tea + bottom rice bits?
I'll pass.

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.

Like hell yeah, I'm stuffed.

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


BCD Tofu House
17 W 32 St
New York, NY 10079


junglegirl / November 8, 2008 12:50 AM

Ooo, I've had that kind of soup before. So Good. Incredible the amount of banchan they serve. Are the prices higher to accomodate them?

David / November 8, 2008 1:35 AM

That bland tea soup thing you mentioned is a traditional way to get all the hard burnt bits off the stoneware used to cook the rice. Those burnt bits are relished by Koreans; there are like crackers and stuff that try to imitate it. Anyway, usually you pour just plain hot water into the stone bowl and then scrape up the burnt rice on the bottom.

It's supposed to have a grainy, clear taste... to cleanse the palate after the main meal. I suppose the taste is pretty similar to oatmeal. For a stronger taste and a more chunky soup you could ask that less hot water be used.

G / November 8, 2008 4:54 AM

Ooo spoooons!

Food looks great as usual, especially the dumpling looks delicious. About that bland soup thing. Burnt rice bits? I can understand why you were confused :)
Keep the posts coming please.

K / November 8, 2008 7:40 AM

The spicy "soup" is actually a type of kimchi. :) As for the "bland tea soup," it's called "nurungji" - the explanation in the above comments is spot-on.

I'm fond of the seafood and pork varieties... but I'll take soondubu in essentially any form. Heh heh.

roboppy / November 8, 2008 8:54 AM

junglegirl: The tofu stew is $9.95 for lunch and $11.95 for dinner, which I wouldn't say is any higher than other places.

David: Thanks for the explanation! I knew someone would know all about the rice soup... ;) I love burnt rice bits (especially when I have to hack em out of a hot stone bowl bibimbap, heh), just not with water. Or that much water. In the future I'll keep in mind that it's a palate cleanser.


K: Oops, is it..soupy kimchi? I need some kind of kimchi guide cos there were probably like..4 of em. And I don't know what they were.

I'll eat soondubu in any form too. It's a dish that doesn't require meat! I just want mah TOFUS.

janet / November 8, 2008 9:26 AM

oh glorrrphhhhasfffsavv you're making my stomach cry. it misses 32nd st. i've never had curry soondooboo. that looks really weird in english. but you know what we must try? SOY BEAM. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I love it.

SuperChomp / November 8, 2008 11:15 AM

Korean food looks like so much fun, but I'm deathly afraid it will be altogether too spicy for me. Although, I have been trying to learn to like the spicies. I've even had Shin Ramyun noodles a few times. Slightly insane.

eunice / November 9, 2008 8:47 AM

Oh man... I'm still missing all the yummy Korean food since returning from my trip to the land of Kimchi last week. This post of yours made me want to lick the monitor big time. *restrains self*

Kate / November 9, 2008 9:18 AM


Wow...a whole fried fish?! That sounds delicious:)Eating the bones (even though they're soft) would freak me out though...

But mmm, everything looks very yummy!

Distar / November 9, 2008 11:52 AM

when ever I have Korean I stick to the meats- keep meaning to try the vegetarian options but never can move beyond my beloved Korean meats. Maybe next time!

Angelstar / November 9, 2008 3:19 PM

Yummy, yummy - all that banchan, luv those veggies. My favorite is the crunchy dried daikon. It's not as spicy as it looks when you eat it with rice. Now I'm hungry for kimchi and unfortunately I'm all out. My korean sister-in-law always makes it for us, but hasn't been over in a few weeks. The fish looks like the kind she always brings over too. She likes to eat the head, so she usually gives me her tail and I give her my head. Hmmmm ... I wonder if she's coming over today ...

Oh, that look on Kare's face is classic. LOL

roboppy / November 9, 2008 5:51 PM

Janet: When will you visit NYC?! We can has soybeam!

SuperChomp: Ah yeah, some of the food will hurt you if you're not a spicy food person. ;_; But not everything is spicy! DO NOT FEAR.

Marie: Connected by TOFU.

Eunice: Oh man! I so wanna go to South Korea. I gotta catch up on your blog..

Kate: The bones didn't seem edible at first, but then I, ate em, so I guess they were. Yummy!

Distar: I keep meaning to try more meaty stuff, but I'm so in love with the TOFU that I don't get to the meat. Besides that the meat is pricier, hehe.

Angelstar: I would like a korean sister-in-law to make me kimchi!

K / November 9, 2008 8:35 PM

It's either a type of "mool kimchi" (literally, "water kimchi") or "dongchimi". I won't go into an esoteric discussion of the classification of kimchi since there's, like, a hundred different kinds or something. I gave up questioning kimchi logic a long time ago. :D

Angeline / November 9, 2008 8:51 PM

I just want to say Kåre is adorable, why yes I did copy and paste his name from your blog.

Oh yes and the food looked good too.

Caroline / November 10, 2008 4:56 AM

Mmmmmm..... so tasty! Soondubu is my favorite!
I can't wait to go home and have Korean food!
Eugene doesn't afford many Korean food opportunities... o_O

Love your blog! :)

roboppy / November 10, 2008 9:02 AM

Su-Lin: It's like hitting the banchan JACKPOT.

K: Thanks for the info! I wouldn't mind knowing what all the hundred kinds of kimchi are...somedaay..

Angeline: He is definitely one of the most adorable people I know. It's distracting. Cos I have to look at him and think, "AWWW" while thinking normal thoughts, like "Put food into mouth."

Caroline: If only my home had Korean food...sigh.

Olivia: TOTALLYY. The egg cooks though! Do not fear the egg!

Mahar: HAHAHAHA, oh man. ..But I love my Giant Manatee! He'd only be better if his belly were warm.

Julie / November 10, 2008 10:19 AM

I'm such a Korean noob. I've only eaten out for Korean once, with a Korean friend to show how to eat everything. The banchan made me giddy, with all the little plates. She advised me to order a tasty beef dish. Shamefully, I've forgotten the name, and the closest approximation I can invent is "biddy biddy bom bom," which I'm sure is a song by Selena. =\

Danny / November 10, 2008 10:22 AM

Oooooh, a whole fish! That looks like good stuff. And that's pretty cool that they give the egg to you. Most places don't seem to do that...

ahhhh i'm so hungry now... gotta go find breakfast.

Yvo / November 10, 2008 12:28 PM

So weird. I swear early this morning/late last night, I was just discussing BCD with my friends and then my brother. I've heard that the BCD on Northern is the best soondubu in the city, so now I must try it, even though the last time I had soondubu (years ago now) I didn't like it. But I'm learning to like the tofu...
And dude, that banchan makes me JEALOUS I love the little plates =D

Eleonora / November 10, 2008 5:19 PM

Your blog is super. So are your photographies. They make me hungry. I have spent a nice moment when seeing them. Thanks a lot.

bionicgrrrl / November 11, 2008 12:15 AM

The soupy kimchi is "mool kimchi" (water kimchi). Dongchimi is similar but is less spicy and has a clearer soup. Two fish! Nice, usually they give you just one fish to share. They must have liked you.

roboppy / November 11, 2008 12:27 AM

Julie: Someone needs to make a dish called "Biddy Biddy Bom Bom" right now.

Danny: More places should give out eggs. Somehow it makes the tofu stew-eating experience way awesomer.

Yvo: You haven't had soondubu in years? OOOO, GO GET SOOOME! Sometimes I get cravings for the comfort food I never had growing up. ;_;

Eleonora: Thanks, I'm glad you like it!

Tyler: Haha, if only it were so easy to pronounce his name. It's more like "kohw-ruh," but you semi-roll the R because it's WEEGIE LANGUAGE. Basically whenever he tells someone his name, no one gets it right on the first try. ;)

bionicgrrrl: Thanks for the info! I feel so powerful with all this KIMCHI KNOWLEDGE.

I feel so special with my fishy.

Paul / November 11, 2008 3:07 AM

The red spicy soup thing you were referring to is basically a different type of kimchi commonly known as mool kimchi - it should have had a "fresh" taste to it?... somewhat hard to describe when trying to translate literally from Korean to English. Also the "tea" is called nooroonji - I guess the reason they serve the toasted rice with water mixture is to relax your stomach considering the spicy dishes that accompanied your meal. It should have had somewhat of a toasty nutty flavor from the rice but like you said it is pretty bland, but thats the purpose of the food.

Also BCD is a chain so you should try to check out the one on Northern Blvd. Overall the Korean food in Northern is way better. I can also recommend some places where they serve Korean comfort foods. Cheers to your blog though, very interesting!

Carol / November 11, 2008 11:46 AM

Cho Dang Gol is my favorite tofu soup place--its really tasty, more texture, has a very clean aftertaste (not loaded with as much msg).

Kunjip has the best banchan in Ktown..

Seoul Garden is another good spot for tofu soup--they are known their Jigae...and they are super fast..

roboppy / November 12, 2008 8:43 AM

Monica: Aw, that soap is adorable!

Paul: I just had to look up where Northern Boulevard is!...haha...meep. I've probably walked there before and just didn't know it. I'll have to go there for Korean food.

Carol: Cho Dang Gol's my fave too! I've been there maybe four times so far. I remember liking the banchan at Kunjip too, although not as much as BCD's. Maybe I should visit again to make suure..ehhh...

Sounds like we gotta get Korean for dinner. :)

Something random from the archives