No. 9, Lane 233, Dun Hua S. Road, Sec 1
website: dubuhouse.com.tw Chinese only
hours: 11:30AM - 11PM
Kid friendliness: high chairs and kid bowls/cutlery. can order tofu without spiciness to go with rice.
Visit reviewed: 3/4/2008 & 3/10/2008
What is "dubu"? It's Korean for tofu and something you might be hearing more and more about. Soondubu or korean tofu stew is already a popular staple in LA and I wouldn't be surprised if it gained a following in Taipei. A friend of mine mentioned that we should try it out (as well as being a big fan of soondubu in NY) and we went for lunch.
Dubu House is apparently a Korean chain that's opened last month on the lane near Dun Nan Eslite to packed lunchtime crowds. The menu is a paper menu with English and Chinese and a few pictures- with tofu stew available with beef, lamb, oyster, seafood or combo options (around NT$260-300), as well as kimchee variation. There's limited other things such as seafood pancakes (not available at lunch), bbq beef and eggrolls. They have table seating as well as tatami style seating where you sit on the floor with a lower table (which seems available to bigger groups).
What's good about it? Like any comfort food, it's just soothing to eat and hits the spot, warming you up, especially in the rainy and cold weather.
After you are seated (there might be a short wait), a few dishes or panchan and hot tea get delivered to you after you order. I wish they had more than the 4-5 small dishes they give you, but at least it's complimentary. It seems to vary each visit, which the staples of nori or seaweed and kimchee.
Next they'll bring out the tofu stew and purple rice, stacked on top of each other and uncover everything for you. BTW- the first time I had purple rice (in a tofu stew place in Gardena) I was a bit freaked out, but it doesn't taste that different and is supposed to be better for you.
Then they'll crack a raw egg into the super hot soup which you can stir up or let poach. Also, you can scoop up your rice into the bowl and eat the crispier parts closer to the stone bowl, or they may scoop it up for you and pour tea into the rest to make a congee.
Personally, I like the semi-burnt crackly rice and didn't like the tea flavor of the rice that we did try- I think it makes it easier for them to clean the bowl. haha. So don't let them do it if you don't want that option. Don't let the rice sit too long though, otherwise, it might burn.
We shared a beef soondubu (NT$260) and a kimchee beef soondubu (NT$280)- the beef one is not spicy, but still flavorful made with beef stock. The kimchee one was spicy and you can request it to be more or less spicy, depending on how much heat you like. If you want to try, you can order the non-kimchee version and put in some of the panchan kimchee into your stew yourself to adjust it to your own liking. Don't expect a lot of meat in the stew, the main feature is the tofu, but I wish there were some mushrooms or something in too. Also, the stew stock is
They seem to be slowly working out the kinks in their service when they are busy. On our first trip, we drooled at the sight of seafood pancakes coming out to other tables so we ordered one. The waitress replied it would take about 20-25 minutes to which we said ok. Then she came out and said that they 'ran out of ingredients' and weren't making any more, though we saw two more come out, presumably from previous orders. On my second trip, they just said, no seafood pancakes at lunch were available (which seems more fair- all or nothing), though we were again bummed not to be able to snack on any. They can also be slow to refill your panchan if you are eating a lot of it.
I also really recommend the kalbi or bbq beef (NT$220)- it's deboned making it less messy to eat, deliciously marinated and grilled to the right tenderness. It comes in small or large plate (NT$420) on a bed of raw sliced onions.
To finish off your 'tofu' experience, they bring out some complimentary do-hwa or dessert soy tofu. Lightly sweetened with what tastes like a brown sugar syrup and a bit of grapefruit peel, it's a refreshing end to the meal.
Dubu House is a welcome addition to the Taipei food scene in my book and I'll probably go there a few times a month, especially when the weather is cold. I've mentioned it to a few of my friends who are from LA living here, and they are excited to try it out. The menu is not as extensive as Mindong, but their specialty is the tofu stew and Mindong isn't open for lunch. I guess I'll have to try and make it to dinner one time to see what the seafood pancake tastes like!