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September 09, 2004
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: BI-BIM-BOPPIN' ALONG...at the TOFU HUT

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TOFU HUT
3920 Spring Mtn. Rd.
LV NV 89102
257.0072

The other day I was talking with my ex-wife (Volume number 3) who's also a Former Food Gal (Issue number 2) -and she couldn't WAIT to tell me all about a restaurant I simply HAD to try. 'I took some friends from L.A. there,' she gushed, and they said it was straight out of one of their Asian neighborhoods. It was really clean and cheap and the food is spicy and you'll be the only non-Korean in...' Oh, you're talking about the Tofu Hut, I yawned.... feigning the only kind of one-upmanship one can with someone who's seen you naked. 'Yeah I go all the time'....I smugly asserted. But being a good sport, she patiently listened as I recounted everything I've eaten on the menu from the Bulgogi to the bibimbop.

Truth be told, everything I know about Korean food I've learned from the Korean restaurants of Las Vegas, a few Korean-American friends, and the patience (and culinary curiosity) of my food gals. My odyssey began way back in 1981, when ex-wife slash Food Gal (Volume 2 Issue 1), and I braved the strange land of the Commercial Center, in order to sample heretofore hidden delights such as kalbi, ban chan, and the aforementioned bibimbop. One night, we meekly wandered into one of the Korean places on the center island, and ordered this steamy rice and vegetable stew probably because it was the only thing on the menu that we could pronounce. I still remember the heady perfume of garlicky kimchee and marinated beef that permeated the room as our well-meaning waitress patiently mixed all the ingredients (topped by a runny fried egg), in the giant soup bowl. She mixed in liberal doses of gochujang (or the ketchpy looking chile sauce that really makes the dish), and made a convert out of both of us right then and there.

Since then I've been bi-bim-boppin' along from one Korean restaurant to the next with this dish as my benchmark of quality....or at least the one menu item that's always fun to say out loud. The Current Food Gal (Issue 3), and I discovered the Tofu Hut because HER Korean-American friend recommended it, and now it's our favorite cheap eatery in town.

Tofu Hut's bi-bim has less bop than some, but isn't really the thing to order here. Right on the inside of the menu is a list of tofu soups, served very hot in thick ceramic bowls, along with another ceramic bowl that looks like it's filled with plain water, smells like boiled peanuts, and is something they call tea. Order the seafood, beef or gyoza, soup and a steaming bowl of custardy goodness will come to your table, and light up your life, no matter what edition you find yourself in.

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