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  • Writer's pictureJilly

BCD Tofu House- Koreatown, Manhattan, NY

While Dana was finding a gem in East Petersburg here in Pennsylvania on Saturday, I was on my way to Manhattan with some work friends for a fun night of K-pop and dancing at a rooftop lounge for a K-pop Club Night event. During the week while planning, since the event didn't start until 9 pm, I knew that after getting ready we were going to need to get some food. Originally we had discussed going to Jongro, then briefly discussed another Korean BBQ location, but my work friends both agreed that something lighter would be better if there was going to be a lot of drinking involved at the club. In the end, there wasn't as much drinking as we had anticipated due to the heat and crowded event, but that's neither here nor there. Eventually, after looking at a few different places, to try out a restaurant called BCD Tofu House. They have a total of 12 locations across the US, three of them in the tri-state area.

The BCD in the name is for Bukchang Dong, a district in Korea, where the owner's mother-in-law had a restaurant and where she got her own culinary start before immigrating to the US. BCD Tofu House is the original Soon Tofu Restaurant in the US. Soon tofu is essentially sundubu-jjigae, a spicy soft tofu stew in Korea. Needless to say, tofu is a major factor on the menu, though not every dish has tofu.

When we arrived, meeting two more people there, we were grateful that it did not take long to get a table inside the restaurant. If you have ever been to NYC, you know most of the food districts have restaurant seating but also have what looks like garages of a sort for outdoor seating. Some of them are built as overflow seating to just sit on a bench if there is no room inside, or some are designated with spaces that fit tables inside as well for additional seating. With how muggy and hot it was, we were much more thankful to sit inside of the air-conditioned restaurant which had a lovely Korean feel to it.

Once seated, we took time to look over the menu since none of us had ever been there before. In fact, I learned that Steve, who was a friend of my friend Barbara's, had never had Korean food before really. Once we all made our decisions, we had a nice difference in dishes. My two co-worker friends got japchae, a glass noodle dish with vegetables and tofu, and bulgogi. Surprisingly, the bulgogi was on vegetables but did not come with lettuce to make wraps. Barbara also got the japchae, while Steve got the tteokbokki. I got bibimbap in a hot-stone bowl.

Orders in, water all around for everyone, we were soon brought our banchan. I admit that banchan is always wonderful to have, namely because it's essentially all you can eat and included with the meal. Of course, there was kimchi and spicy cucumber, but there was also steamed broccoli, yeongeun jorim (sweet soy braised lotus root), mashed potatoes with carrots, peas, and raisins that was cold and surprisingly good, and an entire fish that was breaded and deep fried. I had all of the banchan, except the fish but I am told it was good. I am sure it was, I just didn't feel like having fish personally that night. I have absolutely no idea what kind of fish it was either.

The meals came out and looked absolutely amazing. My bibimbap was wonderful. I did get mine with beef as well, which was not an extra charge. They had gochujang on the side to add to taste to your own spice level, which I loved. Apparently, my spice tolerance has increased more than I realized, as one of my co-workers tried some of my dish and it was too spicy for her. I loved it. The only thing I would have loved more was if they had an egg, which is often served with bibimbap.

The others with me loved their food. My co-worker with the bulgogi wasn't as keen on the vegetables necessarily, but she is not a vegetable person but she said the bulgogi itself was amazing. My other co-worker with the japchae was only sad because she could only finish about half of her dish and was unable to take the rest with her, since we were heading straight to the venue for the event and it would not have kept. Another friend of Barbara's did join us for dinner halfway through and got one of the soon tofu dishes and it does come with a raw egg to crack into the dish. In Korea, they do pasteurize their eggs differently so you can add raw eggs to things easily without fear of getting sick. At BCD, the soon tofu is served pretty much bubbling still in the hot-stone pot so adding an egg in right away will immediately cook it.

I highly recommend this restaurant. The atmosphere was great, and the service was wonderful. In fact, my co-worker with the japchae was concerned she had ordered the large instead of the small, because of how much larger it was than Barbara's and how much was left over, but we were not charged for a large. They were incredibly accommodating to us, especially for a busy Saturday night and having someone join us halfway through the meal. The meal itself was delicious and there are other items I definitely want to try on the menu, particularly their spicy marinated raw crab. Their prices were also very reasonable. If you have a chance to hit up this gem, located on 32nd Street in Koreatown, I encourage it.

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