(Book Chang Dong)
961-2001 or 888-313-5454
Here's another dining adventure on your doorstep.
This time natural tofu and noodles at Book Chang Dong on Northern. The look is very long and slim, a restaurant that echoes the interior of a Korean home with timbers and walls of cement and stone. The tall backed chairs are elegant mahogany with tapestry seats. And the floor is blonde polished oak. There's a large open kitchen with a goodly number of chefs.
Your placemats have comics of cartoon characters talking about the food in Chinese and Japanese. Fifteen dishes are listed and that is the menu - plus the location of their four restaurants. Palisades Park in New Jersey was the first, then came Sunnyside on Queens Boulevard, next this Flushing locale and the newest in Philadelphia.
We were sitting close to the open kitchen to view every dish as it passed by. And everyone was having soft tofu, a stew served in black clay pots rushed to the table bubbling hot. It was a reddish stew with soft irregular bits of tofu and a few mushroom slices, and was positively delicious. I liked to add clumps of hot sticky rice.
There are all sorts of condiments on the table from the ever-popular kimchee, to pickles that tasted right out of a Delancey Street deli, sesame seed soy sauce, and other relishes plus ketchup and soy sauce and chili sauce. (It's a case of season to taste.) And there's an egg in shell on a tiny white plate. That is to be added to the bubbling tofu stew where it cooks to "soft boiled,"
As a first course there are complimentary cups of cold orange soup with cabbage and cucumber slices. Most refreshing. In ordering, be sure to try Number 8 or 9, the Korean pancakes. I think of them as crepes - there is the same moistness, slickness to the tongue and buttery brownness. This version has scallions and tastes magnifico with sesame seed soy sauce spooned over it. It's about the size of a personal pizza but thin - two crepes high and cut in wedges. If you're into predictions of food trends, I'd say this is the Asian contender to foccacia and may even challenge pizza at some point. The kimche version will be too hot for some.
Vietnamese noodle soup has proved a restorative for Americans after a 20-plus-hour flight from the States. It is also the breakfast that the Vietnamese favor. The large bowl is brimming with long thin noodles in broth with slices of beef floating in it. A side dish of greens delivered with the condiments has fresh green coriander, large fresh basil leaves with a heap of raw bean sprouts underneath. These are to be added as you sip your soup. Great late night or early morning, too.
Another dish we cheered was boolkoki. It is a barbecue but, as the waitress acknowledged, it's steamed. The oval stainless steel dish held thin slices in a slightly sweet sauce.
Perhaps the challenge of saying sanggoobossam, our final selection and the highest priced, added to the cost. Stamp-sized slices of pork fanned out on a platter with bok choy and other relishes, and with many tiny raw oysters sans shell in a Romaine leaf. It was an impressive presentation but for me did not deliver. I feel it lacked the finesse to accompany the cold pork and raw oysters with the appropriate relishes. It is an acquired thing.
Don't expect dessert. There was nary a one. Instead a stick of gum (not too sweet) from Korea accompanies the check. Not only do they accept credit cards but there is also an ATM on the premises. I like that.
If you get a yen to try a soft tofu stew or a restorative Vietnamese soup, think Book Chang Dung (Natural Tofu and Noodles) open 24 hours on Northern Boulevard in Flushing.
A taste of the Orient. Tofu and noodle restaurant with 15-item menu. Soft tofu stew and Vietnamese rice noodle are specialities of the house. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Resembles interior Korean home. Efficient service.
Soy Bean Soft Tofu..$7.00
Vietnamese Rice Noodle...$6.00
Korean Style Seafood
Vegetarian Soft Tofu...$7.00
Food: Tofu & noodles
Setting: Korean-style home
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days
Location: Between 152nd &
Murray St. S side
Credit cards: All major (except
Discover) & ATM.
Children: Pancakes (Korean style)
& barbecue (steamed)
Take out: Yes
Private parties: None
Noise level: Sometimes quiet.
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