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3575 Wilshire Blvd. @ Kingsley ~ Koreatown, CA 90010 ~ 213-382-6677 (TACO Map)

Other 8 L.A. locations: Torrance, Cerritos, Rowland Heights, Reseda, Garden Grove, Downtown & Western

Don't let the name fool you, this legendary KTown eatery is not a flowery temple for keeping your karma in line, freeing the bees from their slave labor, and leap-frogging yummy animal parts for mung beans and soy cubes. At BCD Tofu House you will get a bite of just about every major animal group that ever graced man's plate-- burned, branded, and sliced up in an indulgent feast of Korean flavors. There is only one completely vegetarian item on the menu, the rest is pure meat mayhem.

The classic has a few outposts from LA to Garden Grove to Seoul to Tokyo, each with their own specialities. Neighborhood outsiders are welcomed, but sadly, for their sakes, few appear. I broke my BCD cherry along with the golden-paletted gourmand Ali Khan, from the hilariously mouth-watering Chef Jeff and Ali Show. It was creeping up on midnight so we needed a 24-hour option and were feeling like a healthy snack, allowing the "tofu" to mislead us from Thai Town down Western to Wilshire. The tofu comes from the centerpiece of every meal here, soontofu, a hot-as-Hades soup lined with melt-in-your-mouth silky tofu and copious ingredients from the animal and marine kingdom.....

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Mere minutes passed after sitting and placing our orders, two dinner specials, mine with the pork bulgogi, Ali's with short ribs. Food bumrushed our show from every direction. More ritual than a heroin habit got underway, with rice and water filled mortar bowls placed here; spicy, garlicky, fresh kimchi there (the national dish, obviously named with a 'Kim'); sliced pickled veggies and sauces scattered across the packed table. The kimchi is clean and very vibrant, a few pickled, major-league shoots under a watery, blood red sauce of balanced spices, with noticable chili and garlic.

Next appeared a whole fried fish, a small yellow croaker that is nicely greasy and salty with delectably soft flesh that breaks apart in tiny squares. A few tiny bones await you if you don't split it up right and the sight of the eyes and mouth turn many a puss...um, 'unexperimental diners'...off. Don't miss it.

The feast continues with the emergence of a sizzling stone cauldron, furiously burbling with lava-colored, lava-hot soontofu. On the side is placed the main attraction of the dish, in my case a hillside of thinly sliced, rough, ragged and sumptous pork bulgogi with a deep adobe-orange color on a molten plate that could be used for fajitas. Bulgogi, meaning 'fire meat' in Korean, is typically pan grilled or charcoal barbecued steak, and spiced with sesame, pear, wine, ginger, pepper, and soy sauce, among other ingredients, and in this case served over a layer of oily, flavorful grilled onions, and beneath a sprinkling of diced shallots and sesame seeds. Ali's mound of ribs also boasted a deep shimmering color with a sharp bone poaking through the tender meat of each rib.

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As the broth simmers and spews, an egg is placed before you. Cracking it into the firmament-fueled soontofu broth cooks the egg among the countless ingredients inside, sort of like Japanese sukiyaki. And what a edible zoo it is down below. I pulled a crawfish and a clam out of my bulgogi, in addition to the cooked egg, saturated veggies, and slices of soft pork I'd administered. The house's main attraction fills the stone pot to the brim; tiny chunks of tofu so soft they melt into one another as well as the broth, creating a liquid solid that soaks in the surrounding flavors of its soup mates.

Ali's ribs were addicitve and delicious, soft and sweet, with a scrumptious charred taste from the grill that didn't compromise the tenderness of the meat, despite leaving it lightly blackened on its fatty ends. I later sampled the beef bulgogi too, and found it softer and more flavorful than the pork. On further visits, I will have to try the bimibap and some of the other specialties at this diner.

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Soontofu combos are excellent for those who like variety in one meal and dig mixing their eats together. The combo meals cost about $13 and are a total feast of Korean meats, side dishes, and regional stars. Forget In N' Out after your next last call, no matter what time of day or night, BCD keeps the light on for you. They provide a good overview of Korean food with a set-up that includes the flavors of some of the city's barbecue joints with a broader focus towards comprehensive Korean tastes. A solid and fun feast!

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