Monday, January 9, 2012

Kaya (Soft Tofu) - Irvine, CA

I have to admit that I am not all that knowledgeable about Korean cuisine. All I know is that I like it. I can count all the times that I've eaten at Korean restaurants. Most of my encounters with Korean cuisine have been because of my brother-in-law who loves Korean BBQ and Soft Tofu Restaurants. There have been a couple of times that I've accidentally walked into a restaurant not really knowing that it served Korean food. Yeah stuff like that happens to me all the time.

Anyhow, this past weekend Sister K was in town and whenever she is in town I always want to try new restaurants with her because she is a pretty adventurous eater. We actually found this place by chance; and in "we" I actually mean my sister did. :D

Long story short, by the time we got to the restaurant that we had originally wanted to eat at on that day, lunch was already over so they were closed. Sad! Sister K quickly hoped on Yelp and found this place and it took little convincing before I had already turned the car around the was headed here.

Some Japanese and Korean restaurants have fake food displays so you can see what the dishes look like before you order. It's a smart idea because people eat with their eyes first.

Since we were having a late lunch, it wasn't too crowded or noisy in there which was nice. While I was sitting there, I realized that I had been there before. Perhaps about 10+ years ago when I first started living in Irvine. Don't know why I had not been back. I even remembered what I had ordered.

They brought out a veggie pancake-like appetizer for us to snack on while we waited for our orders. It was pretty greasy and I probably would not have eaten it except that I was hungry.

I decided to order the Kal Gooksoo which is a seafood broth noodle soup and Sister K ordered the Seafood Soft Tofu Soup. Her soup was really flavorful and if you have never had soft tofu before, you need to go and try it. The tofu is the silken variety and it sits in a flavorful broth that is served piping hot alongside a bowl of freshly steamed rice. I think I am going to order this the next time I come back.

Here is the Kal Gooksoo up close and personal. The seafood broth to this noodle soup was equally flavorful in a different way then the soft tofu soup. The noodles were chewy and had that made in-house taste. I have to say that very few things in life compares to a big bowl of hot noodle soup. It's a total comfort food thing.

So one of the coolest things about Korean cuisine is the banchan! Banchans are small dishes of food served with your main meal. Kind of like little side dishes. Each one different. Offering different textures and tastes. A couple of banchans we had with our meal included marinated potatoes, steamed sprouts, seaweed salad, kimchi and some stewed tofu, just to name a few. Different restaurants tend to serve different types of banchan but they always seem to include kimchi. That is a must! I enjoyed my meal here today and hope to come back soon to try some of their other offerings. Can't let another ten years go by without eating here again.

Kaya (Soft Tofu) Restaurant
14120 Culver Dr, Ste G
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 726-9424


Unknown said...

I'm putting "Kaya" on my restaurant lists to try. I'm half-Korean and LOVE all Korean food! Especially, bimbimbap!

We're scheduled for a few of the same races. Ragnar, Pasadena and LA!! You're an awesome runner, craft too, I look forward to meeting you soon!

Madison said...

Pam: I love bibimbap too! I think that was the dish I had when I came to this restaurant the first time. Looking forward to meeting you as well.