Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lighthouse Tofu

A few months ago, a reader wrote to me and suggested I check out Lighthouse Tofu.  With a couple locations in the DMV area, I chose the Annandale spot for lunch.  Known for cheap eats casual version of traditional Korean food, the Lighthouse Tofu is popular for spicy tofu soups and bbq grilled meats.  The place was packed with local Korean-Americans mostly but we were seated at a table right away.

Lighthouse Tofu menu
(click to view larger)
The menu is limited with appetizer choice of mandu (dumplings) or pa jun (savory pancakes).  But the specialty of the house is the spicy tofu soup called soondubu. Available in a spectrum of 5 spice levels from "white" to "spicy spicy",  a cauldron of pepper-laced broth made richer by custardy house-made tofu, a raw egg, and add-ons such as oysters, mushrooms, and beef is the go-to item.  Drop the egg into the broth as soon as it arrives so it cooks well. A vegetarian version is available made with mushrooms, but you should still specify that you don’t want beef broth used.  Keith opted for the combination soup that came with shrimp, mussels, and beef and chose the fourth spice-level.  It arrived bubbling and spewing over the little cauldron and was loaded with tofu and goodies.  This thick soup is like a Korean-style cioppino, and is perfect for cold wintery days.

Along with the soup comes a bowl of white rice and ban chan (variety of vegetables side dishes).  The kimchi looked especially spicy with its intense deep red color.  My favorite was the pickled radish soaked in a spicy soy sauce. We also ordered some grilled meats, which came is large portions perfect for family-style sharing.  I chose the chicken teriyaki that was sweet with a hint of ginger and studded with a few vegetables like broccoli and bell peppers.  Keith ordered his favorite, kalbi - delicious beef short ribs that had nice char flavor.  Everything arrived piping hot and full of flavor.

We had plenty left over to take home, and our server was happy to box everything up for us - even the soup!  While we did not feel rushed, the service is very friendly and efficient at Lighthouse Tofu.  The food was generous and fresh, and the restaurant was clearly popular by the crowded dining room.  If looking to try authentic spicy tofu soup in an unintimidating setting, check out Lighthouse Tofu.

Total Rating: 3.95
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4

What I ate:
Chicken Teriyaki

Plus Keith ate:
Combination Tofu Soup
with mussels, shrimp, beef

Kalbi
Lighthouse Tofu on Urbanspoon

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