|The table of food you get with a single combo order of kalbi and soup at Lighthouse Tofu|
First stop: Lighthouse Tofu, one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Ellicott City. It's a casual place that specializes in a tofu soup called soondooboo. Very friendly place. A great spot to expand your Korean eating if you have only done barbecue before.
And my Lighthouse recommendation is a two-part order that lets you enjoy a little barbecue and expand into soondooboo.
Lighthouse's soup is a spectacular winter meal. Piping hot broth with deep, earthy flavor on its own. Spicy if you want it. Thick like a stew with mushrooms or meat and vegetables, then the silky tofu throughout. I didn't grow up with tofu, so I lack the vocabulary to really capture the pleasure. It holds its shape, but goes down without the chewing that you'd need for meat or pressed tofu. It's a delicious, filling bowl.
Then you get a small platter of kalbi as well. That's beef rib meat, marinated and then cooked tender and full of flavor. I often pass on kalbi because it can be pricey, but Lighthouse gave me exactly what I want -- rich and flavorful like I don't get from just vegetables, but even better because it was reasonably sized and paired with the soup and side dishes.
Lighthouse Tofu is a terrific restaurant -- casual, kid-friendly, and reasonably priced at $10-15 a person. I'm highlighting the kalbi and soup here, but you won't do badly ordering anything. In February, I wrote about Lighthouse as an alternative for Korean Food 101. That post has step-by-step instructions about going to Lighthouse and ordering some basics. In Step Two, you could order kalbi instead of the pork belly that I mentioned there.
I highly recommend Rte 40 and its Korean restaurants for anyone who wants to try great food in Howard County. I posted a Korean Food 101 that explained how to try barbecue at Shin Chon. I'm currently infatuated by the noodle soups at Hang Ari, which is in Catonsville but still on Rte 40. You could also scan down all the posts about Korean food.