Sad news, soondubu lovers. The owner of Irvine's best soondubu restaurant, Cho Dang, is selling her business and closing up shop in January. While there's no shortage of restaurants in Irvine that specialize in the spicy Korean tofu stew, in this writer's estimation, none can beat Cho Dang's flavorful, thick-bodied broth.
Wait, you ask, isn't Cho Dang a chain restaurant with other OC locations in Yorba Linda, Fullerton and Garden Grove? Yes, but links in the chain aren't always the same. Part of what we've liked about the Irvine location is the warm reception from the woman who owns the place that treated everyone like family. Also, the assortment of panchan, the pickles that accompany every Korean meal, is a hand-made touch and specific to the cooks making it.
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So even if they use the same recipes, which they may not, can the other Cho Dang locations make their broth as rich and delicious, their panchan as home-y? We'll miss the convenience of the shop on Yale Avenue and Irvine Boulevard, but I suppose I'll drag the family further north from now on.
In the meantime, you have a few more weeks to say goodbye to the Irvine restaurant. Escrow is expected to close around January 15. When the sale completes, it will be a Korean restaurant of some sort, but we're told, the new owners will not be keeping the Cho Dang name, nor the same menu.
Cho Dang Tofu & Korean BBQ 4790 Irvine Blvd. Ste 106, Irvine, (714) 544-4411.