I was very surprised to see how crowded every Korean restaurant along El Camino seemed to be on a Saturday. We tried going to Jang Su Jang, but the wait was over 45 minutes and we were all too hungry to endure the wait. Pdho and I were having dinner with Mo$ on a rare evening when she was by herself. Like many other patrons unwilling to wait, we ventured across the street to SGD Tofu House. This place turned out to be pretty crowded as well. It looked like no one wanted to cook tonight, but since it was a smaller place serving a more simple menu of mainly tofu soups, a variety of bi bim baps, and Korean BBQ, the turnover seemed faster.
As soon as we were seated, they rolled out with a bunch of Korean small dishes aka “banchan.” Truthfully, the spread was not as appetizing as it has been at some of the other Korean places we’ve been to lately. The portions were a little smaller and the dishes themselves were rather uninteresting, kim chee, jap chae, some bean sprouts and pickled radishes. They were typical dishes and they tasted very normal. Nothing really special. Although the banchan is always complimentary and really meant to wet the appetite, the banchan at some restaurants are very well done and offer some more interesting dishes like fish cake (which is my all time favorite) or seaweed salad or potato cakes. I can’t really complain, because it’s not like we pay for it. It would be like going off on the bread basket. Hehe!
I ordered the Bi Bim Bap with Pork which is a mix of rice, vegetables, and meat cooked in a steaming hot clay pot. Normally, I’m not a big fan of bi bim bap, because it is usually a vegetarian version and I can’t NOT have some sort of protein in my meal. Therefore, the pork in this dish really helped balance out the vegetable garden in the pot. However, the best part of the dish is the crunch of the rice that results when you mix all the ingredients together inside the steaming hot pot and it cooks the rice until you get that crispiness with the rice that immediately lines the bottom of the pot. Once you add the right amount of spicy red sauce, you end up with what I consider a table-side version of Korean fried rice. Hehe!
The tofu soups aka “soon doo boo” is really the signature specialty of this restaurant, and they definitely offer a variety of different ones like seafood to mandoo (dumplings) to beef. Pdho ordered a Kimchi Soon Doo Boo (medium spicy) which tasted pretty good. It was quite flavorful without being too overwhelming “on fire” spicy.
Overall, the restaurant is a good choice among the many along El Camino Real in Santa Clara. It’s definitely the best for tofu soup, but it gets more points for offering reasonable prices and a relatively clean and simple ambiance in which to enjoy a hearty Korean meal.
SGD Tofu House
3450 El Camino Real #105
Santa Clara, CA 95051
PAFO Ratings for SGD Tofu House:
Price 2 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3 ½ stars
Overall rating 3 ½ stars