Soondubu jjigae. If you've never heard of it, you just may end up best friends with it this winter. This Korean favourite is more than just a soft tofu soup. You get a quivering wobble of soft set tofu - like a savoury version of pannacotta - simmered in a mini cauldron of bubbling spiced soup. The broth is guaranteed to warm you up from the tips of your fingers right down to your toes, and don’t freak out about the angry red tinge – it’s not half as spicy as it looks.
At BCD Tofu House, they’re all about soft tofu soup. You’ll find 13 variations ($15-$16) on the menu. So you want your tofu soup with seafood? Or kimchi? Or dumplings? Tick. Tick. Tick. Restaurant regulars swear by the version with fish roe.
Rice comes with every option, turning your soup into a complete meal. It's worth paying an extra $4 for the upgrade to special rice, or yeongyang dolsotbap, a purple-tinged extravaganza of mixed rice cooked with gingko nuts and thin slices of jujube red dates. The sizzling stone pot it’s presented in means that by the time you hit the bottom you should find a crunchy layer of rice that Koreans call nurungji. Scrape it out as is, or follow the lead of locals and ask staff to pour in boiling water to make a kind of rice tea.
Bolt on extra dishes, like bulgogi beef or stir-fried squid, for a tofu soup combo meal. The BBQ beef ribs are a ripper, marinated in a sweet soy glaze and grilled until the meat slides off the bone. It’s worth rounding up the crew so you can order more dishes to share. That means stomach space for crisp seafood pancake, yukhoe beef tartare and bossam, a DIY affair of pork belly wrapped up in Chinese cabbage with spicy radish salad. The ginseng chicken soup is said to cure all ills.
You’ll score complimentary panchan side dishes too. If you need a refill, just press the buzzer on your table and ask nicely. And expect crowds on weekends. They don’t take bookings so turn up early or be prepared to queue.