Vegan's Chronicles + [tofu]

Countryside Sundubu (Spicy Silken Tofu Soup)

I loooove 'sundubu jjigae,' but when I went veg, it became increasingly difficult for me to find restaurants serving animal-free versions. Infact, I rarely eat it now, which is a real shame. However, there is one place where I can still get delicious vegan sundubu. 'Shi-Gol Sundubu' (시골순두부) is hands down my all-time favorite sundubu jjigae restaurant in Korea. The name basically means 'Countryside Sundubu,' and it is definitely 'countryside'. From the outside, it looks like a run-down hole in the wall... you would never think that it's the most popular restaurant in the area! This place gets super busy and their parking lot is always full. Unfortunately, since it's located around Cheonan, I can only go there once in a while, when I visit my folks. I'm telling you, I make my family go here almost every time I'm in Cheonan- it's that good.

What makes this place so amazing and unique is that their silken tofu is made right in the restaurant and its texture is different from the silken tofu used in most other soondubu dishes. It's kind of lumpy/clumpy, but the fact that the tofu isn't totally 'silken' just makes it more authentic and traditional- in other words, more delicious! I just love everything about this dish: the not-overly-redness of the soup, the tofu, and the veggies. Oh, btw, they usually put tiny shrimps (새우젓) in the soup, but I just ask them not to include that, and it isn't a problem at all. Instead, they give us a dish with extra salt, since the shrimps are pre-salted. 6000 won per person.

Another reason why I am in love with this restaurant is their spread of 'banchans' (Korean side dishes). Aside from the kimchi dishes, I'm pretty sure that the green banchans are vegan, and they are yummie! But what that brings their banchan spread to a whole other level of superiority is this one dish that is simply heaven. I blogged about it before, but I love it so much, I will talk about it again. It's made out of "biji," which is the left over soy fiber from making the tofu. They season it and spoon out blocks of it for us to eat as a side dish. It has such a deep, nutty, rustic flavor, it's especially delicious when you wrap it in some sesame leaves and just pop it your mouth. Customers also dissolve some of it in the soondubu jjige while it's cooking, because it gives everything a deeper dimension of flavor, and also gives the soup a little texture. I could eat bowls and bowls of this stuff. The restaurant even puts out a bucketful of plain biji by the cash register, along with plastic bags, for customers to pack up and take home. I've also taken some home with me to make biji pancakes (Korean-style). YUMMM!

What's also interesting about this restaurant is that there are a few (two?) russian women who serve customers, speaking perfect Korean! Yup! If you didn't look at their faces, you would think they were Korean. It's definitely bizzare being served by white people here in Korea... I'm assuming they are married to Korean country farmers... I hear a lot of stories about how Korean farmers marry women from Russia or other Asian countries because Korean women won't marry them. Strange to actually see this for real!

So yea. That's my review of what is quite possibly my #1 restaurant here in Korea. It's about time I featured it! As for how to get there... . it's not in the city of Cheonan, but in its outskirts, in an area called 'Mokcheon.' It's close to the Independance Memorial Hall and the Mokcheon Interchange Toll Gate.

Found this crude map on naver... . Here are some simple directions:

If you're coming off of the Mokcheon interchange (toll gate), turn right (don't go straight, towards the Independance Memorial Hall), and drive straight for about 2 minutes. It will be on your right, past the rice paddies.

If you're coming straight from the Memorial Hall entrance, turn left when you hit the intersection with the Mokcheon Interchange. Drive straight for 2 minutes. It will be on your right.

Tel: 041-556-9946