Hosoonyi Tofu Restaurant
23830 Highway 99
Diverting off the I-5 near Lake Ballinger and hitting the Pacific (or #99) Highway, passing by what seems to be an endless number of places that are in love with the flavour of teriyaki, you can discover a fairly well known Korean restaurant called Hosoonyi that specializes in sundubu jjigae. This spicy hot stew is a classic dish in Korea, eaten for lunch or dinner, alongside a bowl of steamed white rice and of course, the usual roundup of side dishes (banchan). So with the good things I’d heard about it, I was quite excited to have a meal here on a return trip from Seattle.
From the outside, it looks nothing particularly spectacular, nestled inside a secluded complex housing other eateries such as what I believe was either a Vietnamese pho place or a bubble tea shop. There is a decent sized parking lot surrounding the area for customers, as it seems a vehicle is required for getting here. At the dinner hour, the room was quite full of customers, young and old, singles and families. Usually a good and reliable sign that the food is good.
Aside from the table settings, there was a Korean-style, no-chair dining area near the front entrance that we were led past. Apparently they weren’t sitting many people in this part of the restaurant on this night.
The tofu-specialty page of the menu featured about ten different combinations. From beef, pork, veggie, and seafood, the flexibility of getting your pick of preferred sundubu is practically guaranteed. When it comes to this dish, I’ve never really been a fan of beef as an ingredient – something about it “murk-ing” up the balance of the broth is what causes me to shy away. Pork, not at the same level, but in the same realm nonetheless. Thus, its always haemul (seafood) sundubu for me, which usually involves prawns, clams, squid, and at Hosoonyi, oysters.
With your choice of heat level also an option, and not knowing how they create their rankings, I opted for the middle of the road mild. What I got was a very flavorful, seafood-infused broth and ample amounts of silken soft tofu. Mild it turned out, was a notch below what I’d probably prefer and in hindsight, should have asked for a hotter level. Overall, a very good rendition of seafood sundubu, if I lived anywhere closer, I could see it being a regular haunt, and I walked out feeling it had met the expectations that were given on this place to me.