When my boyfriend and I first discovered that there is a Korean restaurant that served some of our favorite dishes like soft tofu stew bubbling away in a hot pot in Soondubuchigae and a hearty bowl of cold buckwheat noodle in Naengmyeon nearby, we were super excited. It was such a welcoming news because there aren’t too many Korean or Asian restaurants in Burbank. I should actually say that there aren’t too many restaurants in the area in general, other than a few vanilla chain restaurants in the Downtown area. I love this town, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely lagging in a culinary race, falling behind its neighboring Glendale and Pasadena, and light years behind Studio City and other parts of the Valley.
My excitement over the Korean restaurant was short lived, however, with I Love Tofu and BBQ in Glendale, where the food was ordinary and the service was much to be desired.
The restaurant is located in the place where Takeshi Ramen used to reside on Brand Boulevard in Glendale. The restaurant looked cleaner and roomier than its former life as a Japanese noodle shop. It doesn’t have the grill at each table that allows patrons to cooks their own meat but it still serves many of the favorite BBQs. When we went to the restaurant for the second time (we went there several months prior and came out not overly satisfied with the food and the service, but we decided to give it another shot), it was a Saturday afternoon. The waitress gave us a menu with lunch specials on it so we ordered a combination from there. When we began to order our lunch, we were told that the lunch specials were only available on weekdays and that we had to order from the regular, dinner menu. I know that Korean food aren’t cheap but spending about $15 for lunch for each of us was much more than we anticipated. Eeek.
My boyfriend ordered the combination of spicy pork BBQ and tofu hot pot. The hot pot was very good, especially with the raw egg on top that eventually cooks in the spicy bubbling soup, but the pork was under-marinated and a bit on the bland side.
The cold buckwheat noodle that I ordered was delicious with noodles cooked to prefect consistency (I like mine a little chewy), but marinated beef short ribs, or Galbi, was way too fatty for my taste. Perhaps the best part of the dining experience is the rice that is served in a small, pot hot. You can pour some hot water on an almost empty but still warm pot and eat the rice that got stuck at the bottom which is crunchy and flavorful!
It was also unfortunate that despite the fact that we were one of the only customers in the place, we got no service and we had to hunt down someone who glanced our way just to get some more kimchi!
In the neighborhood where decent Korean restaurants are scarce, I’m sure we’ll visit I Love Tofu and BBQ again but that’s only if I’m attacked by a serious Korean food withdrawal and I don’t have it in me to drive to Korea Town for real, tasty delicacy. I’m sure I will visit HK Market down the street more often so that I can make my own at home.
I Love Tofu and BBQ
126 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA 91203