A while back, I stumbled upon a review in the New York Times for BCD Tofu, a Los Angeles import that had made it to the Koreatown strip last year. The review suggested that BCD's most remarkable dish, a pickled raw crab preparation, was only available on the lunch menu. Ask away, the article said. Sometimes, generous waiters served smaller portions at dinner.
So, last night, at one in the morning when I rolled into BCD with a tired and hungry posse, we ate through napa cabbage kimchi, pickled cucumbers, pickled daikon, fried fish heads, kimchi soup with cucumber, marinated squid, and seaweed salad, all complimentary (if you've ever gone to a proper Korean restaurant, you know that the free stuff often exceeds what's been ordered). My friends ordered fried pork dumplings, mushrooms stuffed with some kind of fried meat, and a cold Korean noodle dish that the waiter told us only Koreans liked. He was wrong. It was studded with pickled bamboo and a hard boiled egg and it was sort of sublime.
And then I asked for the crab.
The waiter looked at me like I was crazy. He was much less shocked when I ordered the traditional bibimbap, ground beef served in a hot pot with assorted pickled vegetables (of course), rice, and a raw egg yolk. But I begged and pleaded and then the crab arrived. It was hard-shelled and completely impossible to eat, bathed in a red chili sauce that stained my fingers and burned my tongue. To get to the meat, I had to crack through shell with my teeth and scrape the raw crab from the interior. It had the consistency of any raw fish, firm and toothsome. It was sweet by nature and spicy from the sauce and it was totally weird and fantastic. I'm not sure anyone else was as into it as I was and I prayed a little that it wouldn't promote some kind of allergic reaction or mild food poisoning on the eve of another long run. But my digestive tract proved strong and stable and I walked from BCD with the knowledge that raw crab is delicious.
And did I mention the hours of operation? That's 24 fun-filled hours of Korean madness. Night owls, enjoy!
17 W. 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001