The Awakening of America to the Korean Diet

How An immigrant Cuisine is Becoming Mainstream

Korean food is the latest in the influx of East Asian influences on the American diet. However, it’s been some time that the kimchi, bulgogi, and bibimbap have put up signs of culinary conquest across America. It should have long taken its place alongside other immigrant cuisines but it looks like it’s still floundering. There are not too many Korean restaurants as there are Chinese eateries and sushi bars.

In 1965, Chinese immigration surged in the US as soon as the quotas were removed. In the 1990s, the Japanese came and pushed future America’s sushi obsession. However, the boom of Korean cuisine in the past few years in the US is not about the same as the Chinese and the Japanese footprints.

The 1970s and the 1980s in the US saw a spike in Korean immigration, the time when the Korean economy was stagnating. There were about a million Koreans in the US in 2007, though only one-fourth of them were already here in 2000. It was around this time when Korea was witnessing a rebirth in economic activity. Korean ethnicity made up already 2.7% of all immigrants in the US, however, Korean cuisine’s popularity rose much later.

While chef-run restaurants are a sure way to get one’s menu noticed by the dining public, Korean chef-run restaurants came into being only around 2009-2010. The Japanese were ahead and taught Americans what real sushi was. Chefs are also able to establish their brands. Now there are many such chef-run restaurants that are Korean in New York City, for example, where a high concentration of Korean-Americans call home. There are many K-Towns around, providing an alternative cuisine amidst the proliferation of other international cuisines and regular American fare. Many of these Korean restaurants stay up late to very late in a city that never sleeps. Soon enough, Korean classics may experience its zenith in this country.

In the Heart of UW: A Favorite Korean Hangout

Korean Tofu House has been a water-hole for the UW community in Seattle, serving Korean dishes so well-loved, we’ve been here more than 10 years. Come for a visit and see.