So Dong Gong Tofu & BBQ

By on 9 January, 2017 in Food, Kate and Stephen, Restaurant Reviews with 1 Comment

The mackerel

It’s normal in a new year to count your blessings as you prepare for the year ahead. Montgomery’s got so much to offer, but sometimes we can fall into a rut by eating only at the handful of our favorite restaurants. Sure, everyone loves El Rey, but you can’t just eat burritos every night (and we’ve tried). That’s why we’re thrilled to recommend So Dong Gong Tofu & BBQ for our first post of the new year.

We tried the place at the end of 2016, and it’s one of the very best meals we’ve had in the nine years we’ve lived here. Anyone reading this post should immediately put the restaurant on their must-try list, and if you go with an open mind and adventurous spirit, you’ll go back time and time again. We’re not Korean food experts (but we did write a post on the basics back in 2012). You don’t need a speck of expertise to know that this culinary experience is unique and delicious.

One problem with dining in Montgomery is that places are closed on Mondays. Not so So Dong. They’re open every day from 10 till 10, with a full menu on offer. And what a menu! There are basically a few categories of dishes on offer: soups, noodle bowls, combos, and BBQ plates. Within each category, there are a ton of customization options. Being mostly vegetarian, we have only tried a few things, but we simply can’t wait to go back and try some more. We’ll probably pass on the menu item labeled “intestine,” but we can say with great confidence that it is probably delicious and well-prepared.

One of us had the combo with grilled mackerel and soup; the other had the vegetarian bibimbap. The grilled mackerel may just be Montgomery’s best fish dish. Seriously. It is seared perfectly, tender on the inside, just right for mixing with rice or soup. The combo comes with a fiercely hot (temperature-wise) soup. The best avenue here is to take some of the golden brown mackerel, which is almost like a caramelized piece of salty-fishy candy, and mix it with soup and rice.

In between bites of the incredible soup, you can cool off the palate with some of the various pickles that are brought to your table. There’s a radish-jalapeno combo that is tremendous, and a spicy cucumber number that accents any meal. The staff also brings you a raw egg, which can be cracked over your soup while it is still boiling. The egg will poach right there in front of you.

The bibimbap is an array of vegetables around very sticky rice perfect for a light meal. The rice is served in a special stone pot, which crisps up the outer layers of rice, while keeping the inner layers moist. It’s great.

All the food comes with hot tea, though you might need to ask if you want water with your meal. The service staff is eager and happy; the spot is ready for small and large groups. When we were there, we got a booth and a waiter ready to cater to our needs. Large signs in the restaurant tout the health benefits of tofu. But meat lovers should know that they are also equally proud of their barbecue.

We liked Arirang, and we’re sorry that it’s gone. But So Dong is amazing, and we’re happy to have another place to move into our regular rotation. We look forward to hearing from readers about the BBQ – if it’s half as good as the noodles and fish, it’s worth the trip out East.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, 18 fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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  1. Joe Birdwell says:

    While we probably won’t see an all you can eat Korean BBQ option ever again your best bet for Table Grilled Korean BBQ now is most likely Yokohama (now that Woo Ga has closed). Despite the Japanese implied by the name it is Korean run and they seem to take their BBQ very seriously.

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