The real K-town in New York City is in Queens, stretching for about five miles from Northern Boulevard and Union Street in Flushing all the way out to Manhasset . This vast K-tropolis is lined with dozens of BBQ restaurants, kimbap joints, large Korean supermarkets, fried chicken spots, a store that sells Korean stone beds, and even a Korean-run Third Wave espresso bar. There are so many places it would take an entire lifetime to document them all. So it is with some trepidation that I announce a new feature on C+M: K-tropolis. Today, a look at 1962 Tofu a Korean soft tofu chain that opened its first U.S. branch over the summer.
Soon after I sat down the banchan, an array of complimentary side dishes, was brought out. As I nibbled on some pleasantly chewy fish cake I learned that 1962 Tofu did in fact start in South Korea back in 1962, and is now a big deal, with some sixty stores in its homeland. It’s no surprise that soondubu jjigae, soft tofu stew, leads off the menu. There are eight varieties (each $11), including a ham and sausage version with cheese.
I decided to forego the meat and cheese combo for a more traditional seafood soon dubu packed with oysters, baby clams, mussels, and shrimp. When the waiter brought out the still boiling bowl of soft tofu he also placed something I’d never seen before on the table. Gesturing to the silver bowl that contained a handful of bean sprouts and shredded seaweed he instructed me to mix the soondubu and rice in the bowl.
At first I carefully slurped the scalding hot tofu stew from the black bowl. Then, I decided to follow the waiter’s advice and create my own rice and seafood porridge. It made for a pleasant enough meal on a late summer night. Not the best soondubu ever and not the worst ,but certainly way better than anything one would expect from a chain restaurant. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back for the ham, sausage, and cheese soft tofu. Then again, maybe not.
1962 Tofu, 147-34 Northern Blvd., Flushing, 718-353-3530