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Huge Chowfind: Chodang Soon Tofu

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I was in between meetings last week and I was driving along Dundas West in Etobicoke looking for lunch. I noticed a place called Chodang Soon Tofu on Dundas Street West between Burnhamthorpe and Kipling. I have had great experiences at Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu on Bloor near Christie, so I went in to Chodang to check it out.

The place was empty at about 2:30pm so I was a bit sceptical. I noticed a sign next to the cash stating that all the tofu is make fresh daily on-site. Then I noticed a glassed in section next to the kitchen with a big steel vat and other equipment that I assumed is used to make the tofu.

Okay, I thought, maybe it's new and undiscovered. Dive in and give it a try. I'm super happy I did.

As soon as I sat down, the smiling server brought over a pot of steaming tea and a small plate of firm (not soon) tofu with a soy and green onion dipping sauce. Delish. Good start.

I ordered the seafood soon tofu. A couple of minutes after I ordered, the server brought out a bunch of Korean appetizers. They included spicy kimchi, a couple more plates of amazing pickled veg, very tasty rolled and sliced omelette, a whole small fried fish (good but not great, although I definitely polished it off right to the bone :-), and a couple more I can't remember. Although not all of them stuck in my mind, I remember thinking that they were all very good.

Then the server rolled out a cart with the soon tofu stew, as well as a bowl of rice that had a purple colour (from black beans perhaps?). The server put the stew on the table and told me to crack a raw egg in and stir it around. The boiling liquid quickly cooked the egg. Then she scooped the rice from a small vessel into a bowl and poured water into the empty vessel, creating a thin soup that became cloudy as it mixed with the rice residue. She told me that drinking this rice water is very healthy and traditional.

The soft soon tofu came in a pot of bubbling and boiling red soup/stew with a couple of mussels, some calamari, and two prawns with their heads. Not a lot of seafood, but definitely enough considering 1) the price and 2) the amount of other food that was served. The stew was super hot, flavourful and the seafood was really fresh. I remember thinking that all this is healthy as well.

Then the owner brought out a small plate of crisp, greaseless tempura tofu with a really tasty teriyaki-style dippingsauce. Really fresh and tasty. And gratis too.

I couldn't believe the price. All that for $9.25 including tax and tip. And all the food was very good. How is that possible???

I noticed that they sell jugs of freshly made soya milk and containers of soon tofu. Overall, an excellent experience. I will DEFINITELY be back.

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  1. This sounds great, thanks for posting the review. I live in the area and would really like to try it but... I can't decipher your directions.

    Burnhamthorpe runs east-west and Kipling runs north-south. I realize Dundas is a little wacky in that area, but I still can't quite figure out where this place would be from what you said. Do you have an address? Or perhaps another street in there to make an intersection (pretty sure it's not at Dundas & Kipling, as I go by there every day and haven't noticed it).

    Thanks!

    Craig

    3 Replies
    1. re: Craig

      Sorry, I didn't note the address. In that area, Dundas, Burnhamthorpe, and Kipling form a triangle. When you get to the end of Burnhamthorpe (which I think becomes Cordova southeast of Dundas) make a right onto Dundas (you'll now be travelling southwest). The place is a couple blocks to the southwest. You'll see what I mean if you open the area on google maps.

      Definitely check it out and let me know what you think.

      1. re: acd123

        I'd love to check it out. Do you know if they have bibimbap as well? I am not a huge fan of the soon tofu but I love the tofu and bibimbap.

        Thanks!

        1. re: cutehinano

          I don't think I remember seeing it on the menu, but maybe they have bi bim bap as well.

    2. Thank you thank you thank you acd for this. I have a serious soon tofu addiction, and you've become a serious enabler in my continuing love for this tasty dish!

      Thanks!

      1. Thanks, I am often in the neighbourhood and will definitely be dropping by to check this place out! I often find Korean places serve immense quantities of food for very low cost, they are good that way.

        1. Hi, ate there last night - address is 5130A Dundas St W - just around where Dundas W joins up with Bloor. Had the Dumpling Soon Tofu and can confirm acd123's report food was good and plentiful. The people that own it are so sweet - they really want you to have a good experience.
          Someone was asking if they have Bibimbap - and yes they do - as well they offer their version of Bento Box with things like spicy chicken, pork katsu, etc.

          1. Any chance this place is open for a late lunch on Sunday?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Food Tourist

              If I am not mistaken ,I have seen it open on Sundays.....

            2. Had a terrific lunch there last Sunday...we were so impressed by the variety and quantity of the food - all for only $7.08 plus tax and tip! Not to mention the great service! Will definitely be back. I especially enjoyed the huge fried fish, and the deep fried tofu with sweet sauce served later in the meal.

              One note of warning - #7 on the soon tofu menu doesn't come with raw egg. I guess the ground soybean is thick enough. All 7 variations are $7.08.

              They also offer gold bibimbop ($9.95), dolsot bibimbop ($8.95), 3 chef's specials ($7.95 or $11.95) and 2 special combos ($17.95 each).

              1. Thanks for putting us onto Chodang Soon Tofu, ACD. I've been four times, and always enjoy it immensely. The food is great, the owners are very welcoming, and such a bargain!

                The rice has barley in it. I'm not sure if that's what gives it the purple colour.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Islington Foodie

                  I'm happy you enjoyed it. I really want to see these people do well. It's a great place.

                  1. re: acd123

                    I'm putting this on my list of must-trys...hope to get out there this weekend!

                2. Thank you for the review!!!

                  I've always wondered about that area -- there seems to be a concentration of Korean establishments there and you're the first person to finally give us a review!

                  There's also a place nearby on Bloor, just east of Kipling that I'm curious about, anyone tried?

                  1. I am of a Korean background so I guess I can clarify the purplish colour of rice. The white rice that you normally see at restaurants are pretty much daily staple of all Koreans. Putting other grains and beans make the "rice" that much healthier. I don't know if you've noticed but Korean people are all about eating healthy food. At home, I don't remember when I last had white rice. We always have multigrain+bean rice that gives a nice purplish colour. It's basically a natural colouring, obviously good for you. Anyway, in Korea, you would see multigrain rice at some restaurants and they tend to be those that specialize in some type of stew.

                    Hope that makes sense.

                    And thank you for the review! Due to the distance, I've never been to Chodang but I only hear good things about the place.

                    1. Thanks for the wonderful review. I would definitely give it a try some day, as I love soon to-fu a lot! :)

                      1. I went there and also has the seafood soon tofu. Everything was as described in the OP. I too could not believe the amount of food I got for what I paid. The rice water was an odd thing at first (not much flavour beyond a sort of tea-like flavour), but when I used it to counterbalance the rich and mildly spicy flavour of the soon tofu itself, I really enjoyed it. Couple of spoonfuls of soon, couple of spoonfuls of rice water...

                        They were very nice and the chef even came out, I think to check whether I found anything too spicy. I hope I communicated back that I didn't mind the heat of anything.

                        Definitely a must repeat for me.

                        If it helps people visualize where it is, it's near the southern tip of Islington Village, just a bit north of where Kipling and Dundas and Bloor mash together into a terrifying crossroads, in a strip mall on the west-ish side. They have a little sign on the side of the parking lot to help you find it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Pincus

                          Thanks for the update. Glad you liked it. It is gratifying to find a neighbourhood, mom-and-pop place that has great food at great prices. Lousy food at exorbitant prices is much more common.

                        2. This sounds like a great place and my colleague and I are planning a visit soon. How difficult/easy is it to get there on the TTC? I have never been to that area before...
                          Thanks!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: pâté chinois

                            A number 45/46 from Kipling or 30 from Islington should get you there. I can't link the place in this post, but it is added in the Places part of Chow so you can get an idea where it is. I think a bit of walking will be required no matter what bus you choose, best to maybe call the TTC first and they can help you plan out the trip.

                            1. re: pâté chinois

                              The 30 Lambton goes along Dundas; there' s a bus stop across the street from Chodang. The 30 goes into Kipling, not Islington station. It doesn't run very often, so if a bus isnt there, take a 45 or 46 from Kipling, get off at Dundas and walk three minutes east along Dundas to get to the restaurant.

                            2. Finally got myself to this restaurant the other day, and I can't thank you enough for bringing this place to our attention. Excellent, excellent tofu in a tasty spicy stew, perfect for these bitterly cold winter nights. And what great value! I can't wait to go back. :)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: mogo

                                after the raves I finally made my way there some months ago and it was a huge disappointment for me -- i can't say i'd make the trek there again tho if in the area with a craving for tofu stew, it is really the only option i think. i even bought their home made tofu to see if it was better when tasted at home, and nah, no go..... i think the best soon tofu place is the wonjo soon tofu on yonge just north of drewry on the west side in a strip plaza: the broth at wonjo is full of flavour wrought out over a long slow simmer, superior to any of the other tofu places in t.o. where the stews taste like they are made in water only, no real stock....sorry mogo, but i think you'll really like wonjo

                                1. re: berbere

                                  I've heard as well that Wonjo's soondubu is by far the best. Been meaning to head there recently. Btw, if you're driving by there (it's in the Connaught Plaza, across from the LCBO), I believe their storefront actually reads "Traditional Korean Restaurant" instead of "Wonjo". Also, Buk Chon next door makes a good jajangmyun.

                                  1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                    Haven't been to chodang, but I have to say Wonjo/Traditional Korean Restaurant indeed has the best soondobu I've tasted in the city. Very deeply flavoured, great broth. Price for all soondobu is also $7.08.

                                    I like it hot, my gf likes it less spicy. She had difficulty w/ the medium heat option, so buyer beware.

                                    1. re: aser

                                      Let me add my highest recommendation for Wonjo/Traditional Korean on Yonge St. Excellent Dolsot Bibimbap, outstanding soondobu, and really great Kalbi ribs, too!
                                      Terrible ambiance (not shocking), delightful hosts, great food. GO!

                              2. The address is 5130A Dundas Street West. This link should have a map attached.

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

                                1. Managed to make a detour on my weekly trek from Waterloo to Toronto this week and stopped by to try. It definitely is very filling for the price.. I ordered the dumpling soon tofu and it was very 'pure' I guess. I was initially looking for something more flavourful but it kind of grew on me as the meal progressed. I was still eating even after we got the bill and I was uncomfortably full... but I still continued eating. There was something very comforting about eating this very light and filling meal. It was comfort food but light comfort food! I left feeling very full but not weighed down by the normal heaviness and regret I normally feel when I eat above and beyond my normal threshold.

                                  The meal is initially a lot more enjoyable if you come with the mindset that everything is very lightly seasoned and the emphasis is more on tasting their tofu. I ended adding three or four sprinkles of salt and pepper to enhance the flavour a bit.. but overall a nice experience. It's good but I wouldn't make a special trip there if it wasn't on the way.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: hippotatomus

                                    Korean dumplings are, at least in my limited experience, quite bland when compared chinese dumplings, for example, which tend to be well seasoned. To make up for the bland dumplings, I just fire a whack of kimchee into my mouth at the same time... YUMMO!

                                    1. re: redearth

                                      Woops. I meant like the soup itself. was a little bland. but the dumplings alone were yummy.. though I would have liked a more chewier skin.. the skin kinda just broke away

                                      1. re: hippotatomus

                                        I've been to Chodang many times, and I know what you mean. The tofu stews are really all about the tofu. Not that that's a bad thing, but I personally wouldn't mind if there was a little more meat, for example, in the meat and tofu stew (can't remember the name - probably Chodang Soon Tofu, lol). The amount of extra dishes that they give you is simply ridiculous, though. I've always gotten a great selection of bun chan as well as a fried fish and a fried tofu dish. All free. All impossible not to eat. Impossible to leave Chodang Soon Tofu feeling hungry, that's fo sho!

                                        1. re: redearth

                                          Oh yes.. I forgot to mention the wonderful homey and charming atmosphere.. You feel so comfortable but it's not like homey in an old way.. the place itself looks very clean and new.. maybe it's the lighting - very comfy as it wasn't dark but just added a nice touch of dim with a little hanging light over each table... It's also not cramped and packed like most restaurants in Ktown.

                                          I've never been to Korea..but maybe nice and homey in a Korean way.. they were even playing some old school Korean music that also added to the atmosphere.. maybe some music that was played during the time of the war.. not war music though.

                                          The place was about 1/4 filled when we walked in but by the time we were halfway through our meals there were already three Krn families that stepped in and out because the place was too full... ~around 6:30ish

                                          Regarding the meat... maybe since tofu has all that protein and they give you A LOT of it - they don't usually serve a lot of meat with their dishes with tofu? If you can get past the language barrier maybe you can request a bit more next time.. seeing as they are so generous with their side dishes

                                  2. Thanks for the reco as my fiance and I went there the other night - I had the bim bim bap which was pretty good it had the crispy rice that is characteristic of stone bowl cooking and fiance had the chodang tofu. While the chodang didn't have much meat the tofu was delicious and it would be the ideal meal for a cold winter night. Starter dishes were great - enjoyed the kimchi especially and the super fresh tofu.

                                    1. What a wonderful little spot! I live in the area and also happened to stumble upon it this past weekend. Can't believe it has been opened for over 2 years and this is the first time I've visited! We usually get our Korean takeout from Kisoya, another Korean / Japanese restaurant a few doors down from this restaurant. Ordered about $40 worth of food (takeout for Sat night) and wow, did they give us a lot of food. We ordered the steamed dumplings (enormous serving which my 4 year old devoured), an interesting fried tofu dumpling appetizer with sesame seeds and a sweet sauce (can't remember the name, but recommended by the friendly hostess) that we all enjoyed, bibibop, bulkoki bento box and the seafood tofu stew. When I went to pick up the order, the owner asked if I liked fresh tofu, and proceeded to hand me a big box of fresh tofu that he had made that morning - complimentary! The meal - plus the usual sides of kimchi etc. - fed 3 adults and 2 kids over 2 very enjoyable meals!! A wonderful place, especially as we enter the winter months!! I'm looking forward to going back - and maybe sitting in the restaurant instead of takeout next time.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Madcar

                                        are there a lot of vegetarian options at this restaurant?

                                        1. re: domesticgodess

                                          There are a few. Just let them know beforehand so you don't get the small whole fish as part of your appetizers.

                                      2. My freind and I went for dinner the past week after reading good reviews for this place. We weren't dissappointed. I expected it to be busy but we were only one of three tables which suited us fine. This being our first experience with a Korean tofu restaurant we were a little lost as to what to order. We tried to get the waitress (the only one) to recommend something but we didn't get too far as I think she didn't understand english too well.

                                        There were a lot of write-ups on the walls so we turned to them and decided to order the deep fried tofu with teriyaki sauce, green onions and sesame seed. It was really good, light and the tofu was really fresh. It wasn't what you'd expect when you hear "deep fried."

                                        We then ordered the tofu stew with three kinds of mushroom. It said it was for two but it was huge. Could easily feed 4 people. You can order it in varying degrees of spiciness. We chose the medium and it had a really nice heat. Again the tofu was so fresh. It came with a purplish colour bowl of rice.

                                        The meal was also accompanied by the typical small side dishes (that come free). There was kimchi, a yam dish (I think), bean sprouts, and 2 fried whole mackeral.

                                        Everything was very fresh and tasty and inexpensive. I would definitely go back again and try some other dishes.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: mammoth

                                          Happy to hear this report. I love Chodang and the sweet owners. If you like soy-products, I recommend trying their soy milk and grabbing some tofu to go. They don't use preservatives, so the milk doesn't last as long as grocery store brands...but it's de-lish! I also like getting a bowl to go and eat it the next day :P
                                          I've tried many other soon dubu bowls around the GTA...but I keep going back to Chodang :). Mushroom is my fav! Yumm

                                          Erin
                                          http://www.cookiesandtomatoes.com

                                          1. re: mammoth

                                            Thanks for the review. I really do have to make the TTC trek out there soon and pick up some tofu for home after the meal...

                                            1. re: Pincus

                                              Brought a friend there once, we were impressed by the quantity and value. Definitely a repeat for me.

                                          2. Is this place still operational? Does anyone know/gone there recently?

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: jennjen18

                                              Still there and still definitely worth the trek. Not fancy, but delicious.

                                              1. re: jennjen18

                                                We went on Sunday - still good as ever. I recommend the mushroom soon tofu soup (or any of the tofu soups), dolsot bibmbop and the spicy chicken is good as well.

                                                1. re: DDD

                                                  Awesome. We went in the summertime, and I got dumpling tofu spicy soup, and my non-believer boyfriend got the katsu. It was equally good. Everything's made with love there, even the banchan!

                                                  1. re: jennjen18

                                                    Yup, as good as ever. :) I LOVE IT THERE! The fish they serve as side dish is soooooooo gooooooooooooooood... as well as the cold and deep fried tofu.. they must have given us extra as almost all of us had double!

                                              2. Went for the first time with a co-worker last week and REALLY enjoyed our meal. I had the beef tofu stew and really enjoyed it. However I would try something other than beef next time as I think a different meat/seafood would go better with the tofu. The presentation is something I have not seen before and thought it was a great experience overall. Appetizers were yummy and filling on their own. Also, had deep fried tofu which had a teriyaki type sauce on it and was very tasty. It also was well fried in that it did not taste deep fried at all (no oil/grease taste). Friendly staff as well. I'll be back soon to try more.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: fryerlover

                                                  I think the mushroom tofu stew is best there. The various types/textures of the mushroom go very well with the spice of the stew.

                                                2. My friend is moving out west so I suggested we go out for dinner and eat something most likely she couldn't get out there. I enthusiastically recommended this place as I had a yummy meal last year. There were 5 of us and we got there close to 8.

                                                  We stood in the doorway and waited for someone to seat us. The restaurant was almost full but we saw 3 tables free. Unfortunately they were not cleared of dishes from previous diners and this should have given us the first clue.

                                                  We patiently waited and no one came. We saw a gentleman come out of the kitchen (cook?), look at us and then scurry back into the kitchen. We saw one waitress at the back who also looked at us but never came and barely acknowledged us. After a short while she shook her head tersely from the back of the room. No smiles, no greetings, no explanations.

                                                  After being basically ignored, we left and I was somewhat embarrassed by the treatment we received as I had recommended and raved about the food. My friends were so turned off they told me they would never come back, and unfortunately, even though I love the food I will probably not return either.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: mammoth

                                                    Havent been here for a while. But what you describe happens a lot if they are too full. The reason is they only have 2-3 people in the restaurant. The old lady acts as cashier, server, and prolly also loads the dishwasher. So if they are busy, she prioritizes the people already eating and will not clear the old tables. She also barely speaks english

                                                    I love the food there and all the freebies she gives (my sister doesnt eat pork and since we ordered mostly pork appetizers she gave her a free non pork one, and she usually gives some uncooked tofu to go), so we end up patiently waiting most of the time.

                                                    1. re: ngmatthe

                                                      I understand the situation but a simple greeting, a smile and at least a simple explanation would have gone a long way. Even if the restaurant was super busy she could have taken 30 seconds of her time to deal with us. Being ignored does not feel good.