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Jun 3, 2008 10:19 AM

Pyung Chang Update

Ten of us went for dinner last night, We chose it for our Monday night pre-meeting dinner location at the request of one member of the party who just returned from four months in Fiji and discovered he was craving their tofu stew while living the good life in the tropics....

Tofu stew is the dish to order here, though the two guys who went with bbq/fired fish enjoyed the preparation and huge portions. My personal favorite is the beef dumpling tofu stew and it was as good as ever: dumpling skins seem to be the perfect thickness to my unrefined taste, the tofu is lovely, the stew is served bubbling hot and they will adjust the spice to whatever level you want. The panchan were great (I liked the potato as a sweet contrast to the spicy, savory stew; the pickled long peppers were also a hit) and plentiful: as soon as we emptied a plate of anything more would show up.

We ate and drank (OB Korean beer, which was the only beer choice last night, unfortunately, though they do have a few brands of sake and sodas as well) ourselves silly for a grand total of about $19 a person, including a very generous tip of over 20%. If you skip the beers here you can easily stuff yourself for less than $12 tax and tip included. (Most of the tofu stews are around $8.95).

Zero decor, unless you count rough-hewn wooden tables and benches, but the table in front was comfortable for ten (with a chair on each end). Best part for our group, since this was a pre-meeting dinner: service was fast and efficient (we were a bit amused that if anyone ordered a beer while our server was going around the table to take orders, she'd interrupt herself and run and get a beer and cold glass from the cooler, then continue taking the orders. From the point of view of the group she had her priorities straight, even though the food really is the priority here :-)). We came in at six, had no problem making it to our meeting in Orinda by 7:30, but we could have lingered if we wanted to do so.

Good bay area re-entry spot after trips to places like Fiji; good anytime, great on a cool or cold day.

Pyung Chang Tofu House
4701 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

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  1. I had lunch there a week or two back and it was great. $9 each for soon dobu included stone-bowl rice, which is listed as extra on the menu. Good panchan.

    The rustic tables and benches are beautiful, and go nicely with the stoneware. The decor is relatively nice compared with, say, Koryo's noodle place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      yes, meant to mention that we also enjoyed some stone bowl rice, which I don't think they charged us for....

    2. Yes, we seem to get free stone bowls of rice as well. A couple times, the server poured water in the stone bowl and we ate the remaining rice (wet, crunchy) as a sort of dessert. Interesting, but not my cup of tea.

      What I like most about Pyung Chang's soondubu is how you can taste the base of the broth. At other places, I can't seem to taste the complexity and depth of the broth, it's sort of just like a red stew.

      I like the beef soondubu the best, pork second. The one time I had squid it was a bit chewy. The kimchi one alters the broth so I don't like it as much.

      7 Replies
      1. re: DezzerSF

        To me, pouring in water destroys the point of the stone bowl, which is the crisp, toasted bits.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I agree. Apparently, it's some sort of tradition. Granted it's done at the end of the meal, but the one time I refused it, I am pretty sure I upset the server.

          1. re: DezzerSF

            At Lee's Tofu House in Fremont, they'll actually give you a small paper sack full of the crisp toasted rice bits if you ask. My parents like to drink/eat the leftovers with hot barley tea, but I prefer to eat mine crisp, so I wave them away if they try to pour water into my bowl. At home, my grandmother used to add sugar to the toasted bits and serve it to the kids as a special treat.

            1. re: cvhound

              Thanks for chiming in, I actually go to Lee's Tofu House on occasion. What is the Korean name for the leftover rice?

              1. re: DezzerSF

                Growing up in a Chinese household, I had something similar. Instead of a rice cooker, we cooked rice in a pot and there would be a layer of golden, crunchy rice around the pot. We'd add water, create almost a homemade sizzling rice soup w/o all the ingredients and have it at the end of the meal.

                1. re: kc72

                  My Chinese mother in law used to spoon some of the golden, crunchy rice crust into her bowl at the end of the meal, add hot tea (pu erh) and enjoy.

                2. re: DezzerSF

                  The crusty leftover rice at the bottom of the pot is called 'nurungji' in Korean

        2. Pyung Chang is currently closed for major remodeling, right? Anybody know if they're reopening or if it's going to be something else?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I was just there last night and there were no signs of remodeling.

            1. re: elainew

              Do you mean you went there and ate? or closed and nothing going on inside?

              1. re: elainew

                I was confusing it with another corner location a block or two away.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Whew! You had me scared for a minute.... or a day!

            2. I always get the kimchi tofu. Veggies should be warned, though, just about every "tofu bowl" has meat in it.

              The one ding I have about the place is the rough tables. They're just kind of the wrong size for me, and I end up with my elbows up by my ears or something. Not terribly comfortable.

              The food, though....