Soon dubu is the silken, uncurdled tofu found in the bubbling hot pots served in Korean restaurants worldwide. "Soon" means pure, and "dubu" is the Korean way of saying tofu. When Koreans say soon dubu, they're referring to the soon dubu jjigae (stew). The stew part is implied, since that kind of extra soft tofu is only used in a hot pot in Korean cooking.
Though popular during cold winters, it's oddly good even on hot nights, especially really late after hitting a noraebang (Korean karaoke "singing room") with your friends. It's also one of the few Korean dishes you don't have to share.
Beverly Soon Tofu
Don't let the name confuse you. This joint has been serving its soon dubu on Olympic (not Beverly) for nearly 30 years. When it first opened in 1986, there were only four flavors of the tofu hot pot on the menu. Since then, their selection has more than doubled. Other Korean favorites, such as bibimbap and galbi, have been added as well. 2717 W. Olympic Blvd., No. 108, Koreatown, (213) 380-1113, beverlysoontofu.com.
So Kong Dong
One of the first soon dubu restaurants in Koreatown, it was hard to find, located behind a column and impossible to see from Olympic. For decades, Beverly and SKD were dueling dubu joints across from each other. Now, SKD has a larger location on Western Avenue with a more extensive menu. Sure, they still do their flavorful pots of the soft tofu, but they also make fried rice and meat dishes on the tabletop griddles. They also have a second location in Little Tokyo. 808 S. Western Ave., No. 207, Koreatown, (213) 380-3737; 333 S. Alameda St., Little Tokyo, (213) 625-0940 (no website).
BCD Tofu House