BCD Tofu House has opened in Carrollton. This Korean restaurant is well known in LA, New York and New Jersey.

BCD Tofu House has opened in Carrollton. This Korean restaurant is well known in LA, New York and New Jersey.

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

A Korean restaurant from California called BCD Tofu House has opened — and it's already bustling — in one of North Texas' most prominent intersections with Asian food.

"Even in June, people are in here eating hot soup," says Heather Nguyen, development partner for NewQuest Properties and the one who convinced the family members behind BCD Tofu House to make the leap to Texas.

The restaurant is located in Carrollton, at an easy-to-spot storefront near the President George Bush Turnpike and Old Denton Road, near 85C Bakery, 99 Ranch Market and Daiso Japan. It's the first BCD Tofu House in Texas, and it's a change of scenery for the family who owns it: "We're very coastal," says Seung Lee, the son of the founder. The 12 other BCD Tofu Houses are in California, New Jersey and New York.

Chan Woo, 22, and Andy Kin, 46, both of Lewisville, enjoy lunch at BCD Tofu House in Carrollton on July 1, 2019.

Chan Woo, 22, and Andy Kin, 46, both of Lewisville, enjoy lunch at BCD Tofu House in Carrollton on July 1, 2019.

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

The restaurant is named for South Korean immigrant and founder Hee Sook Lee's tofu soup, a stew that Seung says he loved eating at home, growing up in Los Angeles. The restaurant's soup is made with silky chunks of tofu floating in beef broth with customer's choice of beef, pork, seafood or other options. The soup is not typically vegetarian, but BCD Tofu House offers a meatless version.

"There are only two people in the world who know the recipe," Seung says of the tofu soup: "My mom. And," he pauses. "The other person." (It's still a mystery to us, too.)

It's typical, say the family members behind BCD Tofu House, to see every table full of plates, big and small.

It's typical, say the family members behind BCD Tofu House, to see every table full of plates, big and small.

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

North Texas has a robust number of Korean restaurants, including a new one that just opened in Trinity Groves near downtown Dallas. But BCD's focus is, notably, on tofu soup — not the more popular Korean barbecue. 

"Beef is very expensive in Korea," Seung says. "Eating barbecue in Korea is very rare. In Texas, it's become this 'thing'. Not in Korea."

Tteok-bokki, spicy stir fried rice cake with veggies and fish cake, is also on the menu at BCD Tofu House.

Tteok-bokki, spicy stir fried rice cake with veggies and fish cake, is also on the menu at BCD Tofu House.

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

The other part of the restaurant name, BCD, is an acronym for Bukchang-dong, the neighborhood in Seoul where one of Hee Sook's family members owned a restaurant. Tofu soup, or soondubu jjigae, is widely available in Bukchang-dong, Seung says.

BCD Tofu House has become a "small empire that has spawned numerous imitators," the LA Times said in 2008. Seung describes his mom as "fanatical" about some of her recipes and flavors. She launched the restaurant in the U.S. in 1996.

A feast at BCD means a table full of plates before the main course arrives. The meal starts with banchan, the small side dishes like kimchi, squid and Hee Sook's fried whole fish. All of the servers speak Korean and English, and both languages could be heard during a busy lunch service.

The sign of a "good" Korean restaurant, says Seung as he gestures around the new Carrollton shop, "are the Korean grandmas." Eight days after opening, the restaurant was full of them.

Atka mackerel is one of the whole-fish dishes at BCD Tofu House in Carrollton.

Atka mackerel is one of the whole-fish dishes at BCD Tofu House in Carrollton.

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

Some of the restaurants in other cities are open 24 hours a day, and Seung says the clientele shifts younger as the day gets later. While the Carrollton shop won't be open 24 hours a day, it'll stay up late, until about 11 p.m. (During soft opening, it's open until 9 p.m.)

"One of my mom's favorite things is seeing a Korean person with a table of non-Korean friends," Seung says. "We want to introduce the best parts of Korean food."

BCD Tofu House is at 1050 E. Trinity Mills Road, Carrollton.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

Look inside BCD Tofu House:

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