January 31, 2016

Restaurant Review: So Kong Dong Tofu House (Edison, NJ)

When I was younger, I took my exposure to a variety of cuisines, particularly Asian ones, for granted. As I've mentioned in the past, my love for food and culture fostered a new found appreciation and pride for my cultural background; more currently, my neurobiology class that explores food chemistry and the brain's perception of taste has furthered my appreciation for flavors and cuisines of other regions and cultures. 

With all of that being said, I love trying new foods (granted, there's a limit because I still eat like a picky bird), and over this past winter break, I wholeheartedly tried kimchi and other banchan (Korean appetizers) at So Kong Dong Tofu House (try to say that five times) with my family.

"But wait, Hannah, aren't you a baby when it comes to eating spicy foods?!" --- to this, I answer, yes. I still am very sensitive to spicy foods, but for some odd reason, I found the spicy kimchi to be more tolerable than other spicy foods that I've eaten...maybe I'll take this topic up with my neurobiology class one day, but for now, I'm just excited to be more enthusiastic about trying new foods. 

So Kong Dong Tofu House is located by many Korean establishments, including a Korean BBQ restaurant (where you get to grill the food yourself) and an HMart. While many reviewers on Yelp rave about the restaurant, I'm in the same boat as the lukewarm reviewers. I wouldn't go so far to say that this restaurant is not good at all, but there was no --- as Keith and Chris of Buzzfeed put it --- "wow factor". 

According to Jenn Im, you should never go to a Korean restaurant that makes you pay for the banchan, so So Kong Dong Tofu House gets a point here (though extras will cost you).

I also won't argue over authenticity, because I'm not Korean and don't know any better, however, I have had Korean food before that supercedes my experience at So Kong Dong Tofu House. My japchae lacked flavors aside from a too generous dosage of black pepper. 

My brother enjoyed his bi bim bap, but I expected it to come with a sunny-side egg like it traditionally would. Also, the bi bim bap wasn't served in a sizzling cast iron dish, so I genuinely do not think it's as good as you could get it elsewhere.  
Mom went with the classic tofu stew, or soondubu,- according to Yelp reviews, the tofu stew here isn't very flavorful compared to the other Korean restaurants in Edison (and there are many). 
Unfortunately, Dad got a tofu dish with a spicy (pork?) meat/vegetable mixture that was intolerably spicy, even for someone who loves kimchi and other spicy foods. 

While So Kong Dong Tofu House's locations in Atlanta and Fort Lee (I've been to the Fort Lee one and it is always packed) have great reviews, my experience at the one in Edison is average at best, and given the plethora of Korean food options that Edison offers, this place is not worth your time.

xoxo, han

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