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Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu - Uptown

I had the chance to check out Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu at Yonge south of Finch (the old China Grill location http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350646 ). I've been to their downtown location and was looking forward to this visit. They had been open for a week or so at this new location.

The menu was as expected; four variations on the tofu soup, and some additional staples such as Dolsot Bibimbap and Bulgogi combos. I got the Soon Tofu with dumplings (spicy) - 6.99 if I remember. The place was packed, my two buddies and I were lucky to get a table after a few minutes. The food took a long time to arrive, but service was very good and attentive, and they gave us lots of appetizers (two types of kimchi, seaweed, and marinated soybeans) and came by to check on us regularly.

Once the soup arrived, we weren't disappointed. Piping hot, with the signature (red bean?) rice in a stone bowl on the side. Crack the raw egg into the soup and you're good to go! It was not overly spicy, just perfect with the added rice. Actually it was more like a stew than a soup. There were two large flat dumplings. The tofu was the soft and smooth type, and the taste was excellent. Looks like they built up the flavors properly, starting with a good stock. However, I suspect there was some MSG added also, from the tell-tale dry mouth and thirst after the meal. My friend's Bibimbap looked good too (you'd be hard pressed to mess up a Bibimbap, as long as the bowl is hot enough).

MSG notwithstanding, I'd recommend the place. When they settle down a bit, I'm sure the service will speed up, and I'll be back. Especially when the weather gets really cold.

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  1. I agree- the soonduboo there is pretty good...probably the best you can find in Toronto.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jmeeee

      ive always wanted to check this place out...everytime I pass the restaurant the place is packed. Thanks for the report. Hopefully I will get there soon.

    2. We went there last night. I had the Soybean tofu soup with beef and mussels. The soup was delicious with a spicy taste and very good broth. It came with the special rice with gingko nut and purple rice that they scoop out and fill the empty container with water. This part I haven't found a full appreciation for. It just tastes like slightly sweet, ricey water. My friend had the bibimbap in the stone bowl. He enjoyed it thoroughly and ate the whole thing. The kimchee and other accompanyments were better than most restaurants I've been to. Would definitely go back.

      1. Sounds like this one is next on my list; MSG notwithstanding. I can almost taste it now...

        The omnivore's creed.
        "Live to eat. Don't eat to live."

        b.moddo

        6 Replies
        1. re: bmoddo

          NO, NO, NO!

          avoid this place, especially the one at this location, at all costs! trust me, it ain't worth even a penny from your pocket.

            1. re: Dimbulb

              Until satoorisme enlightens me as to why the Buk Chang Dong Yonge Street location is such a dud, it remains - in my view - a winner. Though I'm most often for lunch at its Bloor Street West original location (a block from the Christie subway station), I note little difference in the quality of the food at either place. Maybe half a dozen choices, most of them soup/stews at $8 (tax included). If you're hungry for Korean, and want it without spending much, and are satisfied with a limited menu, you can't do much better. Both outlets are invariably jammed during the main lunch and dinner hours with an overwhelmingly Korean clientele. Service is crisp and efficient. The only beef I've got with the Yonge Street location is parking, which is difficult at best, and relentlessly patrolled by nasty officials zealously dispensing tickets - even just a few minutes before 9 p.m., when the machines need no longer be fed the ransom demanded.

              1. re: juno

                I like both of these as well. Whenever I'm at the uptown location the clientele is overwhelmingly korean however I find most of the time at the Bloor location there are a lot more non-korean customers. I'm guessing because it, along with Ka Chi are among the brighter restaurants with big windows on that street.

                1. re: szw

                  Both my wife and I enjoy Soon Tofu and frequent both locations during the colder days of the year and we have left satisifed everytime we have gone. Parking for the Yonge locaion can be a bit of a hassel but you can park in the back of the store and enter through the kitchen. The only thing to remember is to let the staff know your license plate number and they will ask you to move your car when someone leaves if you have blocked them in.

                  1. re: Asuran

                    i'd have to agree that the Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu is not bad at either location - you get what you pay for: you're not paying much and for that you get a hot, hearty meal that is filling and will hit the spot. it's not top of the line soon tofu but it doesnt aim to be - it's fast food-style and it delivers what it advertises. the real dud imo is the Chodang Soon tofu that advertises homemade/handmade soon tofu - it defly falls short of expectations.

                    personal fave, as i've said elsewhere, is the Wonjo Soon Tofu further north on Yonge, south of Steeles: good variety and number of side dishes and great flavourful stock for the stews....for me, the real treat here is getting the crusty rice from the bottom of the stone bowl to go -- the rice and tofu stew is filling enough for one meal and i can never finish the crust soaked in hot water -- that crusty rice bottom is gold: esp as i rarely get it at home what with electric rice cookers these days. i take the rice crust home and add hot water to drink like tea (no sweetner of course) or, even better, put it in a pot, add 3-4 cups of water and boil for half an hour - you get a nutty toasty tasty jook (congee) - mmmmmmm, now that's comfort food! good on its own plain, or with a sprinkle of sesame seed/oil, drops of soy, crumbled toasted seaweed....

        2. Buk Chang dong on North York is great! I tried their grilled marinated meat and their bibimbap with my girls and we looooved it. If you're vegetarian, you can ask for them to hold the meat in your bibimbap. Their tofu soup is awesome too. You can get it less mild, mild, or spicy. I recommend kimchi or the dumpling soup. Mmmmm this place rocks!!! I recommend you go there during lunch or before dinner time because it can get busy busy busy! But it's great to be a part of this bustle!

          1. I don't get it. Maybe I've been spoiled by my boyfriend's mother's cooking but the soon dobu in restaurants are just really lacking and this place is no different. The broth for the dumpling one is really weak, no flavor at all except spiciness, which is not really a flavor. The ones with seafood is overwhelmingly fishy like it's been sitting there for awhile. And everything is so overcooked like the beef is really tough ALSO, I know it's more about the tofu but man are they are a bit stingy like my soup had three dumplings and the seafood have very little seafood.

            The only one that is okay is the kim chi one cause it tastes like kim chi soup. Also this place is not cheap, I mean it's cheap but most soon dobu are around that price, not like the cheapest.

            15 Replies
            1. re: AngelSanctuary

              AngelSanctuary, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the soon dobu at "Traditional Korean Restaurant" near Yonge & Wedgewood. Having no Korean friends, I don't know what it's supposed to taste like but I seemed to have settled on this place over others just for the soon dobu.

              1. re: Wandering Foodie

                Despite the post above (from 2009) I personally like Chodang Soondubu the best. Everyone has very different tastes, but my family as well as several of our friends frequent this place quite often - word of mouth spreads quickly in the Korean community! On top of that, the owners are very sweet and I really enjoy taking home their fresh tofu and soy milk. Wonjo is also quite good, but Chodang always pulls be back. Buk Chang Dong satisfies me when I don't have time to go too far for a bowl of soup. They're all tasty, in my opinion, but Chodang is my favourite. This may or may not be useful, but here's the review from my blog. If you want to see pictures that go with the text below, the post is here: http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.co...

                Banchan
                - Chodang's star is always the deep fried tofu. Quickly dipped in the oil, the outer layer is crispy and tasty, while the inside still has a great texture. Made fresh for every customer, the sweet sauce enhances the dish and it never comes out soggy.
                Deep fried tofu topped with sweet teriyaki sauce, green onions & sesame seeds
                - Fresh, chilled, firm tofu & soy sauce - wonderful texture & flavour

                Chodang's deep fried and firm tofu are always great at showcasing how delicious their freshly made tofu is. If you like it, they sell it separately and sometimes soy milk too. I've taken home a jug of it in the past - no preservatives, silky smooth, and delicious. You need to drink it fast since they only use natural ingredients!

                Mushroom SoonTofu is consistently my favourite, it is hearty with several different types of mushrooms and silken (soon) tofu. The mushrooms soak up all of that wonderful flavour.

                You can choose mild, medium, or maximum spice. As a huge fan of the heat, I always ask for the max. Just crack your egg right in the bowl and enjoy it poached!
                I've tried almost all of their bowls. My least favourite is their kimchi bowl, and my second favourite is the traditional Chodang SoonDubu bowl. While I enjoyed their seafood and mixed (which is beef & seafood) versions, call me picky but the lazy foodie in me doesn't like plucking the head off of the prawns, even though that's how it's supposed to be served. The seafood is quite good though, with mussels, squid, and prawns. Yum. Worth a try.

                I have yet to try their dumpling bowl, their dumplings are quite tasty so I don't see how you could go wrong there.

                Their soy bigi bowl is also tasty but the trek to Etobicoke is always for the soondubu. It's basically a bowl of ground soybeans, nice and thick. Great option for those who don't want to have the silken tofu soup, but like the taste of soy. I have had better biji-jang though.

                Every bowl (kimchi in this case) comes with a stone pot filled with rice. The nice, purple-ish colour is from the wild rice. The bottom layer of rice is quite crunchy from the hot stone bowl so water (or in some other restaurants, tea) is poured into the bowl after most of the rice has been scooped out. At the end of your meal, you can just scrape up the loosened rice at the bottom and enjoy it, and drink some of the water too. Or drink it with your meal. Personally, I like mixing my soup with my rice and eating it together - then finishing off with the ricey-water but to each their own.

                All of their products are freshly made with wonderful texture & flavour, and they use all natural ingredients - on a daily basis! Their silken tofu, firm tofu, and soy milk are all worth taking home if you like soy products. The owners are so sweet and happy, I love the service. The soup base is flavourful, and the side dishes are always tasty. Great for dinner now, even better in the winter when you want a soup to escape from the cold.

                Kachi
                I found Kachi's soondubu soup on the oily and watery side. The broth was lacking a deep, rich, flavour and their tofu wasn't as tasty. They're known for their pork bone soup anyways (which I don't think is that great either, to be honest).

                I've been to Buk Chang Dong several times for SoonTofu as well. It's a solid bowl, and far more convenient for me since I live downtown. They have good side dishes and I've tried just about every soontofu on their menu. I always order the combination bowl, the first item on the menu. Yum! It helps curb my cravings when I can't get down to Chodang.

                Wonjo also makes a solid bowl. The quality of the broth and the amount of meat given are similar to Chodang, but I personally prefer Chodang's silken tofu. What can I say? The freshness and texture can't be beat and I love, love, love the owners. While not horrible, Wonjo's interior could use a little retouching when compared to Chodang. However, Wonjo's consistently receives rave reviews, so it may just boil down to personal preference (as it often does!). Wonjo is a good deal for a wider variety of soups at a decent price. I've tried their Korean beef stew (Gomtang) and Korean ginseng soup (Samgyetang), all tasty for less than $10.

                As for Chodang, I will admit I've never ventured past the left side of the menu - I'm so addicted to the soup that the idea of ordering katsu, teriyaki, or tempura seems like a waste of a trip. I've tried their table cooked stew called "Chodang's Best" which, shamefully, I don't really remember (which to me means that I didn't like it more than the soontofu).

                At $7.08 this meal is a great deal

                Again, everyone has different tastes and look for different things when it comes to soontofu soup. There are so many ways to tweak it (just look up some recipes, and you'll see what I mean). Not everyone is obsessive as I am when it comes to hunting for the best bowl of things like soondubu soup though :P

                Erin
                http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.com/

                -----
                Buk Chang Dong
                691 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                Chodang Soontofu
                5130 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M9A, CA

                1. re: ekim256

                  Wow, you're gonna make me trek all the way there (I'm in the east end)? Haha, if they're open I think I'll just do it this weekend.

                  1. re: Wandering Foodie

                    They should be :-) I usually go on Saturdays and Sundays with my parents. My friend took the TTC there and he was very happy he did because he really enjoyed it! If you go, I hope you like it! Love love love the mushrooms...hehe
                    I've never tried Traditional Korean Restaurant though :)

                    Erin
                    http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.com/

                    -----
                    Traditional Korean Restaurant
                    6016 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2M3V9, CA

                    1. re: ekim256

                      I believe Traditional Korean Restaurant is the English name for Wonjo restaurant....

                      -----
                      Traditional Korean Restaurant
                      6016 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2M3V9, CA

                  2. re: ekim256

                    i tried ka chi's veg soon dubu today and thought it was very rich and flavourful. the broth was far better than buk chang dong (my usual spot), though the tofu was not as silky. maybe the meat broth at buk chang dong is better, i don't know... but for any vegetarians out there, ka chi has a better broth. i have also tried the veg soon dubu at nearby tofu village and imonay but both are nothing to write home about. i still have to try chodang...

                    1. re: helenhelen

                      Does Ka Chi use vegetarian broth? I have heard great things about soon dubu and would love to try. I love Korean food but there aren't many veg options :(

                      thanks!

                      1. re: mrsleny

                        their menu has a little icon for vegetarian options (so glad to see this!), and that was next to this veg soon dubu so i assume it was veg broth. my friend and i also shared a potato pancake.

                        give ka chi a try.. they have quite a number of veg options. there is also another place on bloor nearby (just east of manning) called imonay.. they have a whole vegetarian menu printed on the wall by the window! i have tried a few dishes.. some good, some bland.. but regardless, am glad to get to try dishes that are normally not available to vegetarians.

                        also, buk chang dong down the street has veg soon dubu as well (veg broth - i have asked). they also have bibimbap which you can ask for with no meat, therefore making it veg.

                        by the way, most kimchi is not vegetarian... usually has fish sauce or some form of seafood in it (like shrimp paste) for the umami flavour.

                        1. re: helenhelen

                          It would be great if someone who spoke the language could ask restaurant staff about the broth. I have asked about the broth and despite the veg symbols, they have said that it is pork based. Sadly, I think to many, veg means no visible chunks of meat.

                          1. re: helenhelen

                            Thanks for the info! I usually just order bibimbap without beef. I will definitely check out buk chang dong. It's too bad kimchi has to have shrimp or fish in it. My sis makes a mean vegan kimchi. I really have to try doing it myself.

                        2. re: helenhelen

                          I think on bloor, Sunrise is much better than buk Chang

                          1. re: szw

                            i went there but found sunrise had few veg options. i ended up just getting bi bim bap without the beef.

                        3. re: ekim256

                          I can attest that Chodang's katsu is awwwweeeesome. I actually wasnt sure about the soon tofu at first and tried the katsu pork -- REALLY GOOD. Everything is good there...

                          1. re: ekim256

                            do you know if they have a vegetarian soon dubu (i.e. the broth is not made with meat or fish)? i want to stop by there for lunch tomorrow.