What’s in a name? That which we call ‘tofu’ by any other name would taste as delicious.
Dare to make Shakespeare about tofu: I went there. It’s because, dear readers, I’m mad obsessed with that magical white cube. Which is why it was completely necessary for me to make a post about Chodang Tofu Village aka Chodang Dubu Maeul (초당두부마을) in Gangneung. Famous for its wide variety of tofu-based dishes, I was unsurprised to come across thirty-minute queues for every restaurant and cafe on the winding street. And that was 11am on a Sunday! In the end, I made it through, returning with my belly full and head ready for suggestions.
Why is it so special?
You can find tofu everywhere in Korea, but what you can’t find is tofu made with fresh seawater. This came from the great mind of Heo Yeob 허엽, an ancient Joseon scholar. While most store-bought tofu and everyday restaurants simply use salt, Chodang Tofu Village boasts only using saltwater from nearby Gangneung beaches. This helps give the flavor an extra punch.
Chahyeonhui Soft Tofu | 차현희순두부천국장
The highlight of the tofu village for me was Chahyeongui Soft Tofu Rich Soybean Past Stew. That’s their English name, anyway. This restaurant was an immediate must-visit for me because they had no hesitancy making a vegan version of their signature dish: soft tofu stew.
The soft tofu stew is boiled directly at your table and comes with a spicy sauce, peppers, onions and enoki mushrooms. The tofu is cooked at the perfect consistency and goes splendidly with the large red pepper flakes mixed in.
The banchan, side dishes, is predominantly meat or seafood, but also offers options for the more veggie-inclined. It was the first time I had seen red pepper-coated green onion stalks, as well as a rich tofu porridge (my personal favorite). I’m also not kidding when I say this is hands-down the best japchae (glass noodles) I’ve ever had in Korea. My boyfriend also devoured the fish, so I’m assuming it tasted alright!
Walk around the restaurant and you’ll spot photographs from famous television shows that the restaurant where the restaurant has been featured. Don’t miss your chance to visit and be sure to take a waiting number from the front desk when you arrive.
Address: 6-7 Chodang-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Opening Times: 8AM – 8 PM (Closed Mondays)
Price Range: 15,000 per person
Handicap Accessibility: Yes
Chodang New Tune Cafe| 초당별곡카페
The tofu neighborhood weaves around various tree enclosures and restaurants, all the while springing up some tofu-based cafes. When these few gems caught my eye, I knew it would become my top priority of the day. Tofu and cafes: what could be better?
The one I want to recommend the most was a small, single-storeyed stop just at the start of the village. If you’re familiar with the famous 툇마루 Cafe*, it’s only a few paces forward towards the village. It stands out for its cute wall decor and advertisements for tofu coffee, ice cream and tiramisu.
Not wanting to miss anything, my boyfriend and I ordered plenty of options. My personal recommendation would have to be the tofu macaroon. The savory punch of the tofu cream blends perfectly with the soft shell. Additionally, don’t pass here without grabbing a coffee. Not only are the beans fresh and strong, but the whipped tofu foam on top was like a dessert in itself.
The cafe mostly advertises their tofu soft serve ice cream, and while it was definitely delicious, the flavor wasn’t strong enough to really ‘wow’ me. There’s also a tofu gelateria a 5-minute walk up the road boasting a long wait time.
Address: 272-7 Chodang-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Price Range: 3,000-7,000 won
Handicap Accessibility: Yes
*툇마루 is known all throughout Korea for its black sesame coffee. Get a ticket inside and come back 2-3 hours later to collect your drink. The wait really is that long, but you can go enjoy your day instead of standing in line.
Chodang Tofu Village is a great stop on any trip to Gangneung. If you’re in a rush to get home, grab some food or a coffee on your way out, or enjoy a slow afternoon in one of the village’s many restaurants. If you’ve visited there already, be sure to leave a comment below or on our Instagram page about what you liked the most. We’d love to hear your recommendations!
In the meantime, check out our NEW PODCAST for many more amazing stories on Korea and all it has to offer!