I got home last night and my boyfriend said, "Let's go eat!" Of course, the cold and rainy weather said to me: "Daikokuya!" But when we got there, apparently it had said the same thing to many other people: there was a small crowd huddled under the awning, waiting for a table.
We'd passed Sohoju on our way from the garage, looking sleek, chic and practically empty. Since I'm going to Korea this week I wasn't very excited about having potentially inauthentic Korean food, but then... it was cold and wet, and they had soontubu jigae (soft tofu stew).
It's a bigger, more open-feeling space than I had expected, with some long tables with bench seating and other tables against a long banquette on the wall. Fairly minimalist decor, perked up by big bunches of flowers in oversized pots dotting the room (but not on tables).
I got the soontubu jigae and my boyfriend got dol sot bibimbap (bibimbap in a hot stone bowl). Actually, the dol sot variation isn't on the menu (they do list vegetarian bibimbap, a nice touch even if it's not hard to do), but our server assured us it could be done. And it was.
My stew really hit the spot. The broth wasn't as savory as Sokongdong's, but I was wowed by the freshness of the seafood - tender baby shrimp and squid that my teeth just sailed through. The clams were just okay, no better or worse than other places. My boyfriend commented that the ingredients in his bibimbap were fresher than what one usually gets.
The big argh was the sides - unlike a traditional Korean restaurant, there's no free side dishes. In fact, this place doesn't really have the traditional sides at all, just kimchi and green-tea rice. The kimchi is good, standard-issue stuff but nicely presented in two neat little rolls. Green tea rice sounded interesting but ended up disappointing - the flavor (if any) was too subtle to stand up to my stew, and it wasn't as glossy and gloriously chewy as I expect Korean rice to be (think they used medium-grain).
The total for the two of us, with a big bottle of Hite beer to share, was about $35 including tip. Or so I hear. ;)
All in all, it was a pleasant surprise... and I'd be happy to go back. Service was very nice, and a guy I assume was the manager (or even owner) came by a couple times to see if all was well.