Sunday, January 25, 2015

At BCD in Fort Lee, the soft tofu in that spicy soup is 100% organic

A large green-lipped mussel emerging from the Seafood Tofu Soup at the popular BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee.

A beautifully battered and fried yellow croaker is the standout among the complimentary side dishes served at BCD Tofu House, an international chain based in South Korea. The others are excellent cabbage kimchi, spicy raw squid and iced sour pickle slices any Jewish deli would be proud of.

Editor's note: Calling all garlic lovers. On Friday, we stopped at BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee for a belly busting lunch, and on Saturday, we had dinner at Wondee's in Hackensack, our favorite Thai restaurant, where we tried to ignore the tattered carpet.


I absolutely love the food and service at BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee, but could do without the crowds and the wait for a table.

Having said that, I always look for an excuse to eat there, as I did on Friday afternoon, when I was returning from taking photos of an Edgewater apartment building that was destroyed by fire.

My visits have been infrequent since the restaurant was recommended to me in 2012, but this time, I immediately noticed the place-mat menu declaring only 100% organic tofu is used in the signature soup.

The menu also notes prices have stayed the same now that House Foods-brand organic tofu has been added.

Tofu is made from soybeans, one of the major crops that are being genetically modified. 

Organic tofu is GMO free as are some non-organic tofus that carry a seal from the Non GMO Project, including the House Foods Firm Tofu sold at Costco Wholesale.

On Friday afternoon, the restaurant was packed when we arrived around 1:30, but we got a table in about 5 minutes.

I ordered Seafood Tofu Soup, my wife had Pork Tofu Soup, both prepared "Hot," and we shared a Seafood Pancake.

BCD prices

BCD's Tofu Soup or Soondubu Jjigae is $10.99 at lunch (10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and $12.99 at dinner, including six side dishes, steamed white or brown rice and a fresh egg to crack open and poach in the bubbling broth.

That's a dollar or two more than So Gong Dong in Palisades Park, our usual go-to place, but BCD serves more free side dishes and the quality of seafood used in the soup is superior.

One of those free side dishes is a beautifully fried small fish, a yellow croaker, that is so good I ate the whole thing, including the head.

So Gong Dong has nothing like it.

The range of spiciness available at BCD are Plain, Mild, Regular, Hot and Danger. Tofu Soup is one of the world's great comfort foods.

BCD, an international chain based in South Korea, also has a more extensive menu of such traditional favorites as stone-bowl bibimbap, spicy raw crab, pork belly and cold noodles called naegmyun.

The complete Tofu Soup meal served at BCD Tofu House is the best in North Jersey. Now, if they only took reservations.


Two of the complimentary side dishes at BCD Tofu House are slices of fried tofu, front, and marinated green beans and mushrooms. The Haemul Pajeon or Korean Seafood Pancake, below, serves four, and we took home leftovers ($8.99).

Seafood Soondubu is $10.99 at lunch.

BCD Tofu House has a playroom for children that parents can monitor from the dining room. 

A takeout order of Pork Soondubu included a fried yellow croaker, above, and Chinese broccoli and bean sprouts, photos below.

Inspired by our delicious lunch at BCD Tofu House, I made Tofu Soup at home on Saturday, using ground red pepper, roasted black sesame seeds, Pulmone-brand Tofu Broth Seasoning and, from Costco, organic chicken stock, firm tofu, and skinless and boneless hake fillets.

BCD Tofu House, 1640 Schlosser St., Fort Lee, hidden away in Fort Lee Towne Center, a small shopping center with a Korean bakery, gym and other businesses; 201-944-2340.

Web site: A dish loved the world over

Ocean of Garlic at Wondee's in Hackensack combines deep-fried shrimp, squid, small scallops and mussels sauteed with black pepper and minced fresh garlic and served with pickled cabbage and other vegetables ($18).

At Wondee's, focus on food

I've always judged restaurants by food and then service, because you can't eat the wallpaper.

At Wondee's Fine Thai Food and Noodles, the food and service are still great nearly 18 years after Chef Wandee Suwangbutra opened on Main Street in Hackensack.

I have to just keep on reminding myself I can't eat the carpet at my favorite Thai restaurant.

The restaurant's floor is raised in the back so you have to step up, if you enter through the door off of the rear parking lot.

Then, the floor slopes in places and is flat in the front, but the carpet throughout is worn, faded and crudely patched with tape.

The chairs also have seen better days. The interior is a liability lawsuit waiting to happen.

Two favorites

Wandee is at the top of her game, especially when preparing two of my favorites, Ocean of Garlic and the classic Green Papaya Salad.

The seafood in the Ocean of Garlic is deep-fried, but not greasy, and tender, and I love the contrast with the crunchy pickled vegetables.

The Green Papaya Salad is served over a large romaine lettuce leaf so you can tear some off, wrap up the crunchy strands and pop them into your mouth. 

Now, if only Wandee's landlord could invest in a new carpet for the restaurant, loyal customers like me can focus completely on the wonderful Thai food.

Thai Fried Rice is made with shrimp, pork, egg, scallions and bell pepper ($10.50)

Som Thum or fresh Green Papaya Salad packs plenty of crunch and plenty of heat from chili peppers ($8).

Geuw Nam or Wonton Soup with roast pork and vegetables ($3.50 for small).

Coconut Juice with pulp ($3).

Wondee's is a BYO.

Wondee's Fine Thai Food and Noodles, 296 Main St., Hackensack; 201-883-1700. BYO, parking in rear, no delivery. Closed Mondays.

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