Beverly Soon Tofu | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Beverly Soon Tofu

photo by Ryan Orange

Monica Lee opened Beverly Soon Tofu on Beverly Boulevard and St. Andrews Place in 1986, and it was maybe the first restaurant in the neighborhood to specialize in the fiery Korean tofu stew known as soon tofu. Two years later, she opened her place in a small plaza on Olympic, right off of Vermont, where it’s been ever since. A cross-section of Koreatown passes through Beverly Soon Tofu daily: On any given afternoon, you’ll find USC kids outfitted in a color of red that matches the cauldrons of bubbling tofu stew in front of them; business types with ties thrown back like scarves, scarfing down their lunch; multigenerational families settling in for a long afternoon of stew and barley tea. There are many, many iterations of soon tofu here, including the original, with soft, springy tofu. There’s also soon tofu with meat, soon tofu with seafood, soon tofu with fish roe — you get the idea. As if that weren’t enough, you can (and should) combine your soup with something like a sizzling plate of galbi or an enormous bowl of bibimbap. —Tien Nguyen