NYC — Spring 2014: Food Journal (Day 2: BCD Tofu House and Wolfgang's Steakhouse)

Friday, June 6, 2014
Our second day in New York found us in Koreatown (which is basically a single street, 32nd, between 5th and 6th Avenues). My mom had mentioned that she wanted some Korean food on this trip, so my brother took us to BCD Tofu House for lunch:

Raw eggs for soondubu and various banchan

Seafood pajeon

Beef and seafood soondubu

Of course, they started us off with a variety of banchan, as all Korean restaurants do. What sets this place apart is that they also serve each person a whole deep-fried fish (yes, head and tail included) to start as well, which I've never encountered at another Korean restaurant. Kind of random, but I thought it was noteworthy. We started off by sharing a seafood pajeon, which is a pan-fried green onion pancake and one of my favourite Korean appetizers. It was tasty, but not as good as the one we had at Kum Gang San last year, which was thinner and crispier, with the batter more evenly dispersed. But that's not really what you go to BCD Tofu House for; you go for the soondubu, or Korean tofu stew. Here, it is served in stone bowls, the soup still bubbling. You crack one of the raw eggs in the soup and mix it in, so the boiling soup cooks the egg. I got mine with beef and seafood and mild spiciness, though there are four different spice levels (I reckon the spiciest would actually numb all your tastebuds). Served with good ol' steamed white rice, it's tasty, simple, healthy, filling, and comforting.

Fresh mozzarella and beefsteak tomatoes

Sizzling Canadian bacon

U.S.D.A. Prime dry aged steak for three, cooked medium rare

Steak (sirloin and mignon cuts) with creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms

After a full day of shopping (a.k.a. cardio and strength workouts), we met back up with my brother at Wolfgang's Steakhouse (the Park Avenue location, which looks like a classic New York steakhouse, all dark mahogany and Art Deco-style tiled ceilings) for dinner. We usually don't like to go to the same place twice when we come to New York, and my brother doesn't like repeating restaurants, either, but Wolfgang's is the exception. You can't go to New York and not get a classic New York steak, and there's no better in the city than Wolfgang's (this also coming from my brother, who has pretty much tried all the best steakhouses in Manhattan). We had an 8:00 reservation but were still waiting for a table by 8:45, and my brother was so pissed off that he told the hostess and the manager (who was standing with her) that it was ridiculous that we had to wait so long for a table with a reservation and that we were going to leave to go somewhere else, to which the manager said, "No, no! Just wait two minutes! We will have a table!" Of course, two minutes turned into ten, and we didn't get a table until after 9:00. The manager made up for it by sending us a bottle of wine on the house, but if the packed house on a Monday night (seriously, the entire bar was packed with people waiting for tables) is any indication of how good this place is, then you know it's worth eating here. 

The servers, who are efficient and knowledgable but usually gruff and humourless, must have been warned by the manager and were trying to be extra-nice and accommodating to us. My brother, wanting to be a bit vindictive, kept trying to make conversation with them and making them laugh, knowing how taciturn they usually are (seriously, they want to serve your food and then get the hell away from the table as fast as possible), which I thought made for some pretty funny dinnertime entertainment. This meal is actually exactly the same as the one we had here last year, with the addition of sizzling Canadian bacon, cut extra thick, and ordered by the slice. As we knew we had a massive steak coming, we only shared one slice, but dear god... what this place does for steak is what it does for Canadian bacon. I never gave Canadian bacon much thought until I had this. Smoky flavour, charred in all the right places, so juicy with melt-in-your-mouth pockets of fat... A must-order along with the steak, even if it's meat overload. (You can read a much more thorough review of the other food we ate in this post that I wrote last year, because my thoughts on the food are exactly the same.) Anyway, if you want a good steak in New York (and trust me, you do, unless you're vegetarian), this is the best place for it, and I assure you that it's worth both the wait and the brusque service.

BCD Tofu House
5 West 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 967-1900

Wolfgang's Steakhouse 
4 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10013
(212) 889-3369
10 comments on "NYC — Spring 2014: Food Journal (Day 2: BCD Tofu House and Wolfgang's Steakhouse)"
  1. OMFG an hour wait? I am so determined to eat steak there next time but the wait sounds insane. I'm a patient person but really don't like waiting for food. And it's pretty funny that you had to go down to the States for some decent Canadian bacon! Why don't we get that served here more often?

    The fish thing at the K resto used to be standard fare with the banchan, but prices have gone up and they've eliminated it from most places. Sometimes they still give it to you as a bonus if you order a lot of food. They're usually on the menu as extras though.

    1. I think they overbooked that night, to be honest. You're gonna have to wait regardless, but it's usually only ten or fifteen minutes if you have a reservation. The hour was ridiculous. That's why the manager sent us wine on the house. Even he knew it was ridiculous.

      LOL, to be fair, Canadian bacon isn't called Canadian bacon here, it's back bacon... :P But you're right, it's not nearly as popular here. I don't know why, it's fucking glorious.

      Weird, I totally didn't know about the fish thing. I guess because it's not the standard anymore, I've never seen it at Korean restos here... But to be fair, I don't go looking for it on the menu, either. I don't think it's something I would actually order. I mean, if it's there and it's free, I'll eat it, but I won't pay for it, lol...

    2. It's an old school thing - more for our parents' generation than than us. Fried fish, rice and some alcohol - worthwhile night for many back in the day. :) I like it because I'll never cook it at home myself, although my mom does now and then. You have to go to the bigger restaurants to get it for free. (Like Seoul House on Dufferin near Yorkdale.) A lot of the casual drop-in spots don't serve it anymore, if they ever did.

    3. I need to expand my Korean food-eating horizons, Liz. I feel like I just go to the big chain ones in the GTA. Know of any good ones that are more mid- or uptown?

    4. You should go here! I've only been once because it's far from me and I actually don't go out to Korean much anymore, but everyone I know goes to this place.

      We can also do an outing one day and I can initiate you into trying new things. The smaller chain-y places tend to serve the same casual dishes and the bigger restaurants have much more than that. The only thing is K restos aren't exactly known for great service and ambience, so you have to just focus on the food, lol.

    5. Oh, yeah, I've been to Sariwon! It's kinda far from me, too, but it was fantastic. :)

      LOL, I find most Asian places are like that. I never go for the service or ambience. That's why you're only expected to tip 10% at Asian restos. :P Tips usually go to the house. I would give shitty service, too, LOL.

  2. MMMM pajeon. so easy to make at home too!

    1. I love all the Asian green onion pancakes, lol. SO YUM.

  3. Like Liz said, the fish thing used to be more common place but I guess they find that a lot of people (who aren't Korean) don't eat it, and it has gotten to be expensive, etc.

    Holy crap, an hour for a reservation? That is insane. At least they tried to make up for it! That always helps.

    1. I guess I haven't eaten Korean food for long enough to see the fish served with the banchan... I mean, I only really started eating it as an adult 'cause it wasn't really that popular here until about five years ago. Now there are Korean restos everywhere. But... ya, I can see why the fish isn't that popular... I mean, it's a fish filled with teeny tiny bones... I only ate it 'cause it was deep-fried, LOL.

      And yes, an hour. If I drank alcohol, I might have forgiven the wait because I'd be trashed at the bar... but I don't and it sucked. But unnngh, the food is so gooooood there...


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