Korean restaurant Pyeongchang Tofu House expands into Berkeley

Stephanie Li /Staff

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Pyeongchang Tofu House, an Oakland-based Korean tofu house, opened its second location at 1269 University Ave. on Oct. 9.

The University Avenue branch is the restaurant’s first expansion out of Oakland. With the guidance of community leaders and members of a Korean Christian church in Oakland, the owners conducted a “very close search” for Pyeongchang Tofu House’s new location, according to Peter Kim, a partner in Pyeongchang Tofu House.

Kim said the restaurant served as a way for his immigrant mother to integrate into the American workforce. Kim said his mother had limited job opportunities in the United States as a Korean immigrant, so she chose to share her traditional home cooking with the Oakland community.

“Everything comes out of my mother’s hand. As you commercialize your business, the small details are lost.” Kim said. “We are always checking the food and ensuring everything in the operation is like it should be.”

For Kim, it was the right time to expand into Berkeley, and he recalled the importance of taking the risk of opening the new location. Kim also noted the lack of traditional Korean restaurants in Berkeley in comparison with other types of Asian restaurants in the city.

Specializing in traditional tofu soup and stoneware bibimbap, a type of rice-based dish, Pyeongchang Tofu House has served the Oakland community for the past 19 years, according to the restaurant’s website. The side dishes, or banchans, served at the restaurant feature seven different types of vegetables and are interchanged daily — except for the kimchi and sweet potatoes.

Cooking with “passion and love,” the Kim family provides the experience of “dining at a Korean friend’s house” by offering small dishes for sharing, which makes “the meal more intimate,” according to Kim

“Besides eating Korean food, you get the opportunity to experience the cultural aspect of how Koreans eat and drink,” Kim said. “People can learn a thing or two from our culture eating each dish.”

Contact Yousef Al Refaei at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @RefaeiYousef.