Thursday, March 13, 2008

korean: i strongly recommend DUBU HOUSE

No. 9, Lane 233, Dun Hua S. Road, Sec 1
(02) 2781-1119

website: 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 beef meat-based, so there is no vegetarian options available here.

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!


Anonymous said...

Yay!!! FINALLY, a real soondubu restaurant! I can't wait to try it. I usually had to wait for my trips back to LA to have some proper soondubu. Now it's only a 5 minute walk away. ~Tina

joanh said...

tina: hi! thanks for commenting! let me know if it holds up to your standards! :)

Anonymous said...

Hm. Interesting observation in them using beef stock.

I know the BCD Tofu House chains in Los Angeles use chicken stock, so it's an interesting to hear about the change.

Is there anyway you could have asked the crackling rice without the tea? That type of rice porridge is very customary in Korean cuisine, but I couldn't imagine eating that with the mixed flavors of tea - the "burned" aspect of the crunchy rice adds enough flavor.

joanh said...

anonymous: hmm, maybe it is chicken stock. they just mention "meat" in chinese and i assumed beef. maybe it is chicken stock. i can double check next time.

you can totally get the crackling rice w/out tea- the server just did it for my friend when i visited the second time without really asking, so that's why i noted it. i told her i didn't want it.

Unknown said...

ooh this place looks promising... if its anything like the places in LA

Most places in Taiwan don't have the style of soondobu in LA that I love and miss so very much =(

Will have to try this when im in the area

joanh said...

eric: yes, definitely the closest thing to LA! let me know what you think if you make it there.

Anonymous said...

When I saw the restaurant on the news, I knew that I had to try it. I definitely miss the soondubu from LA. The tofu stews that I have tried in Taipei are never as soft or authentic as the ones in Korea or LA. Luckily, Dubu House did not disappoint me. Their tofu stew is probably the best that I have had in Taipei. Their side dishes were average and I don't think they have enough waiters. I went during lunch time too and wasn't able to try their seafood pancake, but the cheese filled egg roll was quite tasty.

joanh said...

anonymous: yeah their side dishes are average (not as plentiful) but i guess as long as the tofu stew is good, we can't complain too much. they could use another waiter (and probably another chef).. i've heard friends trying to get the seafood pancake at dinner and being turned down as well. :(

Anonymous said...

This place is a bogus Korean restaurant. It is definitely not as good as before. As of 3/1/2014, our experience was unsatisfactory. Service was rushed, food not authentic Korean, and quality of dishes poor. For example, they would use scrap vegetables for one of the side dishes. You can easily tell by shapes of the served vegetables being shaved, not cut. Also, the soup did not taste like it was made of beef stock.

The Dun-Hua Taipei Branch (located on Dun-Hua South Road Lane 233 No.9) was terribly run. I would not advise any of my families or friends to go.