Food La La: Swooning over soondubu
BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday season filled with lots of delicious food.
Most of the time I write about new restaurants in my blog, but I want to change things up and talk about my favorite restaurant for soondubu (soft tofu soup) — So Gong Dong.
So Gong Dong opened in 1997 and is owned and operated by Steve Lee. Just a few months ago, the restaurant moved from McCully to 627 Keeaumoku St. (across from Walmart). They can be reached by phone at (808) 946-8206.
So Gong Dong’s specialty is their soondubu (soft tofu soup). They have ten different flavors such as beef and pork, seafood combo, spam, and sausage — all for $8.45. My two personal favorites are the mushroom and the kimchi and pork.
This is the kimchi and pork soondubu served boiling and bubbling. I live for spicy food so I requested that my soup be extra spicy which is why the color is a bright peppery red. You can request whatever spicy level you wish. If spicy is not for you, they can make the soup completely mild (a white colored broth).
The soondubu here is made with condensed collagen from beef so the broth has a deep flavor that warms up your stomach and tastes great with the combination of the soft and silky pieces of tofu.
An egg is given with the soondubu for mixing into the soup. The egg tones down the spiciness and also gives the soup a creamier texture.
This is the mushroom soondubu. Look at all the beautiful enoki mushrooms! This soup is a lot milder than the first one, that’s why it’s a light orange color.
The best thing about So Gong Dong is their combo special which is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight. For prices ranging between $13 to $15, you get your choice of soondubu and an additional dish such as meat jun, kalbi, bulgogi, fish, mandoo or seafood pancake.
“Our most popular item besides the soondubu, is our seafood pancake,” said Lee. “Japanese tourists especially like it because it is similar to the Japanese dish called chijimi.”
Haemul pajun (seafood pancake) is actually one of my favorite things to eat because it’s crispy, satisfying, and yet very easy to make. However, Korean restaurants charge around $15 just for one order. That’s why I really like the combo special. For $13.99 you get one order of seafood pancake and a soondubu. The seafood pancake alone without the combo is $12.95.
An interesting fact is that pajun is especially popular in Korea during the rainy season since the sizzling sound of the pancake cooking matches the sound of the rain hitting upon the ground.
Kalbi is another popular item and also probably the most well known Korean dish in Hawaii ($12.95; $13.99 with the soondubu combo).
But I personally like to eat bulgogi more. The bulgogi here is nicely flavored and tender ($12.95; $13.99 with the soondubu combo).
Of course all Korean restaurants serve an array of banchan or side dishes with your meal. This is one of the reasons why I like Korean food. During my childhood, whenever I ate Korean food I would pretend I was a queen enjoying a royal feast with all of the different dishes placed in front of me. Sometimes I still secretly do.