The obsession with Korean culture doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon. Whether it’s fried chicken or K-BBQ, Singaporeans are all head-over-heels for Korean food.
However, if you’re looking for a healthier and more authentic option, then head down to SBCD Korean Tofu House for a generous, steaming bowl of soondubu stew. It’s hearty, comforting, and full of soft, silky tofu that’s unlike any other tofu we’ve had before.
Every morning, the head chef at SBCD makes the tofu from scratch – a lengthy process involving immense amounts of patience and care – to ensure we get that magical jiggly softness. The chef has to soak the soya beans overnight, then grind them into a fine powder. He then cooks the mixture over a gentle flame, stirring several times every hour. After the tofu cools and sets, it’s cooked in the stew and goes straight into your belly.
Soondubu translates to “soft tofu”, though the word “soft” doesn’t even begin to describe its unique texture. The delicate tofu is silky-smooth and almost custardy, melting and breaking apart once it goes into your mouth. You’ll have to slurp instead of chew the pillowy chunks because yes, they really are that soft.
SBCD Korean Tofu House is the only Korean restaurant in Singapore specialising in soondubu stew. They’re dedicated to giving everyone what Koreans call a “complete meal”, which must include rice, soup, and several sides. You’ll get a bowl of hot stone rice and a couple of side dishes with every order of stew, a filling and heart-warming combo that guarantees satisfaction in every bite.
Pro tip: instead of eating it straight from the hot stone bowl, scoop most of it out into a separate bowl, leaving the bits that stick to the sides of the hot stone. Then pour some hot tea (provided for free at every table) into the hot stone bowl, and cover it up until you’re done eating. You’ll get a sort of tea-porridge to cleanse your palate, which is apparently also good for digestion.
Most of their stews use the same rich soup base, but you can choose your toppings and spice level. The stews are done on the milder and sweeter side, even though they’re all a fiery shade of red. You can err on the side of spicy, especially if you’re looking for a little more kick. The soup’s substantial and comforting, just what the doctor ordered for a cold, rainy day.
If you’re a chilli-phobe like me, then go for the sesame soup base (which is also vegetarian) or their Italian-inspired soups. We were wary of the idea of tofu with pasta and tomato sauce at first, but the combination was, surprisingly, not bad at all. There’s no question that traditional stews are more up their alley though.
Craving a bit of savoury, chewy meat in between your mouthfuls of soondubu? The side dishes at SBCD are great additions to your meal, providing some welcome variation in taste and texture. We especially loved their pancakes, which are made to pancake perfection: crisp outside and soft inside. Their LA Galbi Beef is great as well – delightfully chewy and full of sweet and smoky flavours.