Where I work, we maintain a long list of local lunch spots we regularly eat at, as well as a list of places we've never been but want to try. We make it a point to try at least one new spot a week. A few weeks ago, Moody and I attempted to try out a new Korean restaurant in downtown Chandler called Chodang, but unfortunately, they were closed at the time (it was a Tuesday). It wasn't until the other day that we finally got another chance to give them a try.

From the outside, the restaurant didn't look like anything special. Many of the restaurants on Arizona Avenue in Chandler are housed in buildings that have been there for quite a while, and many of them are a bit rundown, so I wasn't setting my expectations very high. Imagine my surprise when we stepped off the street in Arizona and into what can only be described (by Moody) as the most authentic looking Korean restaurant he's seen in Arizona. The place was extremely clean, well lit, and pleasantly decorated with hardwood floors and partially wood paneled walls. Tasteful pictures and paintings of Korea hung on the walls. Each table was outfitted with a call buzzer, another touch popular in Korea. Ringing the buzzer activates an LED panel behind the service area, alerting the wait staff that you require attention. Moody gave it a try, and sure enough, about 30 seconds later, our waiter appeared.

Our meals started out with small salads, which were fairly plain and dressed with a sweet, soy based dressing. Shortly after, we placed our orders. While we waited for our entrees, the waiter showed up with a tray full of side dishes (banchan). My favorite thing about Korean food isn't the entrees; it's the side dishes that typically accompany them. In almost every Korean restaurant I've been to, you get between five and six small dishes of various types of kimchees and other items to go with your meal. The side dishes at Chodang were excellent - I really could have made a meal from them alone.

Both Moody and I opted for tofu soups. I ordered the beef version. Korean soups are served boiling (literally) hot, and this one was no exception. When the waiter served the soups, he asked us if wanted egg. Most Korean restaurants add the egg to the soup automatically, so I thought it was a nice touch that Chodang offered the option, especially since I wasn't in the mood for the egg anyhow. The soup itself was very flavorful and contained a healthy amount of beef and a ton of tofu. There was certainly no skimping on quantity. Chodang's beef tofu soup was easily the best I've had.

Of all the Korean restaurant's that I've eaten at in the valley (Hodori, Takamatsu, GoMo, Korean BBQ), I'd have to say that Chodang is my new favorite. The combination of interior aesthetic, tasty food and good service place them a notch above their competition.

Chodang Tofu & BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
I am Jack's Brain's Gravatar I've always wondered what the place with the "Barbecue and Tofu" was. Good to hear they're worthwhile.
# Posted By I am Jack's Brain | 9/21/06 10:10 AM
James Ki,'s Gravatar Definetely one of the best korean restaurants. There are quite a few Chodangs in California and they're food is also one of the best in Cali. They bring the competition here.
# Posted By James Ki, | 10/31/06 2:05 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi James,

I just had lunch there again today. I really like the place a lot, although I wish they would vary the side dishes a bit more. I don't know if they are always the same, or they just serve me the same ones because they think I wouldn't like other ones they might have.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 11/2/06 6:03 PM
James Ki's Gravatar Well when I lived in torrance, they only had signature sides. All chodangs have the same sides all the time.
# Posted By James Ki | 11/8/06 11:56 AM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Thanks James, good to know.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 11/10/06 11:31 AM
Morgan Park's Gravatar I have been to Chodang many times, MANY times, and their food is simply the best of any korean food restaurant in the valley. I have been to hodori, gomo, arirang, korean bbq, our house, and a ton more, and THIS IS THE BEST. Everything tastes they way it should, the facility is clean, it smells nice, the waiters are friendly, the tables are clean, the floors are sweapt, bathrooms are emaculate, and the FOOD IS TERRIFIC. I have ordered EVERYTHING on the menu, every tofu soup, every guksoo, every mandoo, gogi, and let me tell you, there is no other place in phoenix that comes close. At takamatsu, the facility stinks and their panchan is terrible, their donkasu sauce is store-bought as I suspect their kimchi is too. GoMo only has their gaktugi kimchi going for them, and nothing else. Hodori is even worse. I looked for something to nail chodang on, and aside from not having poricha, they make the grade.

By the way, it is NOT traditional korean to have tabletop cookers for bulgogi, that is a touch that Korean restaurants added to lure in western customers.
# Posted By Morgan Park | 12/6/06 10:43 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi Morgan,

I certainly agree with you that Chodang is a level above the other Korean restaurants in the valley, especially in terms of their facility, tofu soups, and the wait staff. However, I do think that the panchan at Takamatsu is better on average than Chodang's. Chodang loses points with me because they serve the same dishes every time. At Takamatsu, there's much greater variety. I'm not sure if they make their own, or purchase it from the local Korean market, but that doesn't really bother me either way as long as it tastes good.

As for the tabletop bbq grills, they are pretty typical in Korea. Some are gas like here, and many are charcoal - they are everywhere. According to my Korean co-workers, they are a traditional part of Korean bbq, and not a gimmick to attract Western diners.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 12/8/06 2:29 AM
M. Park's Gravatar Rob,

The tabletop grill was a novelty, commonplace, but not staple. Just like in America there are many items like backyard bbq that is common, but not an everyday occurance, or even weekly at that.

As for the ever-pressing issue of chodang and their perpetual signature sidedish, I do agree that some degree of variance of sidedish is nice, I would much rather have quality than variety. Again, there are some who agree that other place have better taste and differing options, through my years of experience, the sides that Chodang offers are high in quality, and while takamatsu does offer some high quality, you never know what is offered from day to day, and parallel to that, you never know if it is going to be something good, or something not so good. At chodang, i know that they are going to offer the same high-quality sidedish, even if it is a bit boring from time to time. Although i do like takamatsu fishcake and daikonroot kimchi, it is not always offered, and some days the sidedish quality is not up to snuff, if you know what I'm saying.

Also, for security reasons only, my real first name is not morgan just for the record
# Posted By M. Park | 12/28/06 12:08 AM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Looks like I may be headed to Korea in February. If that's the case, I can't wait for all of the new dining experiences that await.

In the meantime, I'll be spending plenty of time at Chodang, and the occasional jaunt to Takamatsu when I need just a little more variety. I do agree with you that the quality at Chodang is top-notch!
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 12/28/06 3:26 PM
Prissy's Gravatar Happy camper. That's what I was this week after reading your review on Chodang. There's another new Korean place just up the road called Manna- they're in their first week, so I'm letting them work out any kinks before I try them out.
# Posted By Prissy | 1/20/07 10:13 AM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi Prissy,

Thanks for the tip on the new restaurant. Like you, I think I'll give them a few weeks to work out the opening kinks.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 1/30/07 9:33 PM
Melody's Gravatar I visited Cho Dang (Arizona Ave, Chandler) in May 2008 and I did not like it.
My husband and children did not enjoy any of the side dishes - and shouldn't
plates come with the side dishes? My children
shared a bbq rib plate and they did like the ribs and white rice. I ordered
the tofu beef soup and thought it was just barely okay.
My husband had the bbq pork and it was the worst! I definitely do not
recommend this dish.
The pork was a disturbing red and tasteless and fatty.
It was clean and nicely decorated and the people were nice. We still tipped
our 15% and left quietly. But we will not be returning.
# Posted By Melody | 5/8/08 1:49 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi Melody,

Sorry to hear you didn't have a good experience at Cho Dang. I've only ordered the various tofu soups as I prefer to have my BBQ at places that also provide a grill.

The sides at Cho Dang are pretty much always the same, although I've never had any quality/taste issues with them.

Have you tried Takamatsu or Korean BBQ?
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 5/17/08 9:53 AM
JOn's Gravatar Like everyone said, this place is great. Ignore Melody's statement. Obviously she is someone that is accustomed to applebee's and mcdonalds.
# Posted By JOn | 7/25/08 8:03 PM



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