Saturday, June 27, 2009

and now, P-ROK

Now that you've made your plans to see the Repertory Opera Company in Pomona, how about some ROK culture in P-town, for a value of ROK that equals the Republic of Korea?

Yes, Pomona has a new Korean restaurant: Tofu House, on Foothill just east of Towne, in the Darvish shopping center. (What's that you say? That's officially Claremont? La-la-la, I can't hear you...)

Tofu House is in the little fast-food building close to the street that hasn't held a successful business in the five-plus years we've been in the Greater Pomona Metropolitan Area. My pal at work (who also lives down the street) and I have been meaning to try it for lunch, and we finally remembered it before lunch, rather than after we were seated at Pho Ha waiting for a big bowl of noodles to splash on our shirtfronts.

Despite the name, Tofu House isn't all tofu. And it doesn't appear to be related to the many other restaurants of the same name in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and the Korean Peninsula, although I should confirm that the next time I'm there. To be sure, the menu and vibe are very different and very homespun -- not "Denny's with kimchee" at all (which is how the restaurant reviewer of the New York Times described the chain when they opened a Manhattan branch -- pffft).

Tofu House has about a dozen dishes to order from, with pictures on the wall. My pal, who is vegetarian, ordered the sauteed noodles with vegetables, and I had the "special" bibimbap (made special by piles and piles of alfalfa sprouts, as it turned out). Each one was about $6.

The fact is, neither dish was all that great. But I'll be back anyway, because I have the feeling that we ordered badly. I know I did; I don't even like alfalfa sprouts! Next time I'll try something with big piles of meat in it, instead of one of their many vegetarian dishes. Besides, it was healthy, cheap, and Korean -- how can I turn up my nose at that.

My one cavill (non-foodies, you may want to tune out now) was the gochujang, the ubiquitous (and delicious!) Korean sauce made from red peppers, glutinous rice, and soybeans. The gochujang at Tofu House was seriously sad -- weak sauce, you might say. But their banchan (the little side dishes) were good, even if they only give you three. That's pretty good for a $6 lunch, as far as I'm concerned.

All in all, TH isn't going to give Montclair's KBBQ (hi, Tibbi!) a run for its money, but you should give it a try.

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