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.