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Tofu Village dining review, Marietta

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Drive to Buford Highway or farther north to the Duluth-Suwanee corridor, and you’ll find a world of Korean restaurants. But along the eastern corridor of Cobb County, just off I-75, there sits Tofu Village, a lonely little outpost of Korean dining sharing space with a liquor and cigar store in a drab strip mall.

Review by Gene Lee

Review by Gene Lee

But inside, the setting resembles a restaurant one might find in rural South Korea. On the fringes are shiny metallic barbecue tables, and a flat-screen television is positioned front and center, broadcasting KBS, a Korean channel. With no alternative Korean restaurant nearby, it seems that Tofu Village could easily rest on its laurels. But it is pumping out some of the most consistent Korean food in metro Atlanta.

Just as the name suggests, stripped down orders of house-made tofu steamed (yang nyum tofu, $7.99) or lightly seared (tofu gue ee, $7.99) can be ordered as appetizers served with nothing but a low-sodium soy dipping sauce on the side. Of the two, I prefer the thick, rectangular version seared in vegetable oil until crispy on the outside. It tantalizes with its slight fermented flavor, resembling a very mild cheese.

The restaurant also impresses with its house-made myeon (noodles). After my dining companion received a serving of ja jang myeon ($9.99), chewy wheat noodles coated in a salty black bean gravy, I didn’t hear a peep from him until every last speck of pork and sliver of vegetable in the dish were picked off by the fine points of his chopsticks. Slippery, translucent myeon come in the kitchen’s fiery yukgaejang soup ($11.99). The spicy beef brisket and vegetable soup is smoky from reconstituted shiitakes, and the beef flavor is deepened by a broth prepared by boiling cow bones for 24 hours. It is the best version of yukgaejang I have ever had.

Yuk Khae Jang beef soup (Photo by Becky Stein)

Yukgaejang beef soup (Photo by Becky Stein)

The restaurant’s smaller plates of banchan (complimentary seasonal side items customarily served alongside regular orders) are consistently high quality. Cool threads of bean sprout namul (seasoned vegetable dish), flavored lightly with sesame oil and salt, pop with crunch. Variations of pickled red pepper cabbage or squares of radish kimchi are fermented to a fun level of sprightliness, causing my mouth to pucker just a bit.

One table at Tofu Village is outfitted for samgyeopsal dining (pork belly, $17.99). A massive cast-iron dome coated in a sheen of cooking oil is placed above a recessed gas burner on the table and acts as the centerpiece. Minutes later, long fatty strips of raw pork belly begin to curl and sizzle right before your eyes. Fresh baskets of ssam (lettuce wraps), oily rice wrap sheets and ssam jang (fermented soy bean paste for dipping) are all placed before you and used for wrapping bite-size pieces of the bacon. My only complaint is the three small strips of pork seem to be a meager amount for the lofty price.

Tofu Village may be isolated from other Korean restaurants, or any restaurant in the immediate vicinity for that matter, but it refuses to compromise in quality and authenticity. It remains one of metro Atlanta’s best options for Korean dining.

TOFU VILLAGE
700 Sandy Plains Road, Suite B-1, Marietta. 770-426-7757
3stars5Food: Traditional Korean food, including barbecue, noodles and a variety of stews.
Service: attentive, well-spoken and knowledgeable
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Sundays
Best dishes: yukgaejang (spicy beef and vegetable soup), ja jang myeon (black bean noodles), dolsot bibimbap (hot bowl rice dish)
Vegetarian selections: a variety of vegetable appetizers, steamed or fried tofu, vegetable-based soups and soy noodles
Children: yes
Parking: in lot
Reservations: yes
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: low
Patio: yes
Takeout: yes
RatingsKey_3

9 comments Add your comment

Stephanie Jeong

November 26th, 2010
11:13 am

They’re BBQ is amazing too! They use wooden charcoal to grill the meat right in front of you which I think enhances the taste. With the meat, you get dozens of various side dishes such as rice paper, kimchi (reddish fermented cabbage), fish cakes, bean sprouts, and etc. I would definitely recommend either the bul go ki (thinly sliced marinated beef) or the yang nyum gal bi (marinated short ribs). It is absolutely delicious and I have never regretted ordering it.

Marie Stanfill

November 26th, 2010
11:23 am

This restaurant was the first Korean restaurant I have ever been to and it was way beyond my expectations. Just as the author said, the yukgaejang was very good. Next time I go, I think I am going to try the barbeque. I saw a group of people sitting at the barbeque table and it looked cool how they grilled the meat right in front of you. And I always hear the customers comment on how delicious it was. I am very excited to try it!

Aaron Jacks

November 26th, 2010
11:32 am

I love this restaurant! The BBQ, especially the spicy pork, will leave you speechless. When wrapped in either the fresh lettuce or rice paper along with the many different Korean side dishes, it will melt in your mouth and you probably won’t notice the food slowly disappearing. If you haven’t had Tofu Village’s BBQ, you are definitely missing out on an amazing feast.

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Wade Wagnon

November 26th, 2010
4:13 pm

I have not eaten here, but I have heard good things. There is, however, another Korean alternative not too far away; Il Me is located on Cobb Parkway (US 41) Just south of Bells Ferry, right where Canton Rd. passes over 41, in a dilapidated strip mall with a DUI school. Awesome bulgogi!

Nora

November 26th, 2010
4:13 pm

We live not too far from Tofu Village and tried it for the first time several weeks ago. Fortunately we had a native Korean in our party who ordered for us (none of us being very familiar with the cuisine). We shared several dishes and I can’t remember the names of any of them. But every single bite of every dish was delicious. I especially enjoyed the small various “side dishes” that came along with the meal. The homemade tofu was fantastic.

The only thing that wasn’t that great – and really wasn’t necessary – was the plain lettuce salad we got before our meals. It didn’t detract from the meal, but we could have done without it.

Will definitely make a return visit soon!

Phalynn Powers

November 27th, 2010
9:29 pm

Nora – the lettuce is to wrap your meat in when it is a full leaf. The shredded lettuce, you also eat with your meat but think of it more like the lettuce topping on a taco. It can help calm the spice!

korean food fan

November 28th, 2010
12:06 am

Il Mee is known for their goat stew; but I think the Yukkaejang is actually better at Il Mee than at Tofu Village. If you’re interested in galbi, then go to Tofu Village. The cuts of meat are much leaner and the marinade is tastier. Il Mee has very good dwaeji bulgogi. Both restaurants feature home style Korean fare, so take your pick and enjoy! P.S., the lunch special of jan pong (spicy seafood stew) at Tofu Village is a great deal!

Super Frankie

December 1st, 2010
12:29 pm

After our ignominious dismissal from the World Cup, Roman asked me to spend some time recruiting my old mate Park Chu Young. Park suggested we go for a bite at Naksaeng in Capetown. I had never noshed on Korean food before and thought that cooking my own food in a restaurant was bollocks! Thankfully, Park did the heavy lifting while I knocked back a few Hites. It turned out to be a grand time but I’m afraid Park is going to end up a Scouser!