BCD Tofu House (북창동 순두부)
This is arguably the most iconic Korean restaurant chain in the US. ‘Soon tofu’ (순두부) is a type of silken tofu in a broth boiled with various meats, vegetables, and rice inside a stone bowl. Over the years, the restaurants have gained significant boosts in popularity, but still boasts its use of quality ingredients and the health benefits of tofu. Although it is traditionally prepared to be spicy, customers can also request their dish without chili peppers. Both locations are open 24 hours everyday, making it a convenient stop to grab something for those midnight cravings.
Kobawoo House (고바우)
Kobawoo House features one of the best “bossam” (보쌈) – a popular Korean dish served with alcohol, that consists of boiled pork belly, kimchi and various sauces to be wrapped in a cabbage leaf. The pork is boiled for long periods of time with herbs and vegetables to reduce smell and fat. When the boiling process is done, what is left is a soft, tasty layer of fat on top of another tender layer of meat. The difference in textures and the flavors of the ginger and garlic make for a delicious experience.
Mapo Galbi (마포닭갈비)
Mapo Galbi features a dining experience not unlike other Korean barbeque restaurants, with the ‘cook-it-yourself’ policy. The specialty item consists of chicken that comes raw with rice cakes, vegetables and spicy marinade. You can ask to adjust the amount of marinade that goes in, but again, it’s meant to be enjoyed spicy. The price is pretty hefty, so it’s more suited for a special night out with friends.
Jang Chung Dong Jok Bal (작충동족발집)
This restaurant’s specialty is pig trotters, but before you get grossed out by the thought of eating feet, it is a very popular dish in Korea (and in other parts of the world). It doesn’t taste as strange as it sounds. Jokbal (족발) literally translates to “feet,” and it’s another example of Korean anju. The trotters are washed before boiled down until skin becomes almost gelatinous. It’s similar to bossam, but unlike the aforementioned dish, the texture of the meat is noticeably tougher. In place of the fat is the thick and chewy skin.
This Korean venue specializes in gamjatang (감자탕) – a dish consisting of potatoes, vegetables and pork neck boiled in a spicy broth. The meat is attached to the bone, so there is some picking involved. When you get over the struggle of having to pick away bones, you’ll find that its tender and juiciness is well worth it. Although you can order an individual bowl for yourself, like many other Korean dishes, the “casserole-like” nature of gamjatang makes it so that it should be shared.