Santa Rosa isn’t exactly synonymous with Korean cuisine, but I’ve noticed a slow, albeit steady rise in the number of Korean restaurants in Sonoma County these past few years. Tov Tofu may be the most authentic, especially for a restaurant 50 miles north of San Francisco.
Tucked away in a shopping center on Yulupa Avenue, Tov Tofu is a bit of a misnomer. The restaurant serves much more than just tofu (not that it’d be a bad thing — one can never have too many jigaes or soondubus). During my first visit with my family, we tried a little bit of everything.
We started with the Korean restaurant standard: bulgogi. The bulgogi here is especially tender, with great-quality beef on a generous bed of onions. Tov Tofu doesn’t have tabletop barbecues, but I doubt you’ll be missing that element with bulgogi this delectable.
Next, we had a plate of bibim naengmyun, or what’s billed as “chilled buckwheat cold noodle.” Whereas a Korean restaurant in Oakland or Santa Clara will usually list the menu item in transliterated Korean, Tov Tofu lists most dishes in English. Korean cuisine is still relatively new in Sonoma County, after all. The naengmyun here was good: chewy noodles with a great bite, although the sauce was sweeter and less spicy than what I’m used to.
We ended our meal with a bowl of bibimbap, which comes in a stone bowl so that the rice forms a crunchy, golden crust. For good measure, we also ordered a flamingly hot bowl of spicy beef soup, flecked with bits of egg, green onions, and bean sprouts. Crunchy, vinegary tastes of banchan helped cut through the heat between bites. So good, so fiery.
There are a few variances from your standard Bay Area Korean menu at Tov Tofu: the bibimbap comes with a fully-cooked shredded egg omelet, and the bibim naengmyeon is vegetarian. But it’s still delicious, and that’s really all that matters. Okay, service matters too. It’s super friendly and down to earth at Tov Tofu, making it one of my new favorite restaurants in Sonoma County. Who knew great Korean cuisine could be found north of San Francisco?