Category Archives: Blog

Simple Table Manners When Dining

Observing Korean Etiquette at the Table

Etiquette at the dinner table is a timeless and traditional Korean way of dining. It helps to know that if you are an invited guests, a few rules concerning politeness can make the event pleasurable and memorable.

You have to wait for the oldest person(s) to sit down first before you take a seat at the table. Usually the oldest person is the honored guest who takes the seat of honor farthest from the door. Especially when you are at someone’s home, it’s polite to say that you are looking forward to the meal. In Korean, you say “Jal-mug-eh-seum-nee-da” meaning “I will eat well.”

At the beginning the meal, you wait for the oldest person(s) to lift their spoon or chopsticks first before you start eating.

During the meal, you try to eat at the same pace as everyone else, especially the elders. You don’t rush or linger. Do not hold the bowl of soup or rice; bowls are left on the table while eating. Now, since there are side dishes at the table that are communal, only take enough for yourself while ensuring there’s enough for others. Don’t take so much that you can’t finish, as that is considered wasteful. Try not to touch food if you don’t intend to eat it. Don’t stick your chopsticks into your bowl because that resembles a traditional Korean ancestor ceremony for the deceased. It’s disrespectful and a sign of bad luck. When you’re done, utensils go back to their placement on the table. In Korean culture, it is respectful to clean your plate.

As far as drinks are concerned, always pour drinks for others first, especially for those senior to you. If your neighbor’s glass is half empty that is when you would customarily refill it; your neighbor will likewise do the same for you. It’s not considered polite to refuse an alcoholic drink offered to you, especially from an elder. As in any social situation, you should be aware of how much alcohol you consume. When someone senior pours a drink for you, hold out your cup with both hands to accept (this also holds true for someone passing you a side dish or something else at the table). When you pour for someone senior to you, place your other hand lightly under your pouring hand or under your opposite elbow.

At the end of the meal, acknowledge your hosts. If someone has hosted you in their home or treated you to a meal out, it is customary to acknowledge your thanks after the meal. In Korean, you say “Jal-mug-uh-sseum-nee-da” meaning “I ate well.”

Being Our Guest at UW Korean Restaurant

Do you want to know more about Korean dining etiquette? Then be our happy guest when you come to Korean Tofu House, one of UW’s most popular Korean restaurants. See you soon!

New Study: Why South Koreans Live Longer Lives

South Korean Traditions and Longevity

Lancet published a 2017 study revealing that South Korea will likely have the highest worldwide life expectancy by 2030. Additionally, there’s a 57% probability that South Korea’s average life expectancy will be an unprecedented 90 years (or even higher) for women. Below are a few traditions listed as the reasons for this longevity rate.

Fermenting foods has long been a hallmark of Korean cuisine. And it has been proven how food fermentation contributes to gut health, with the prime example of spicy pickled cabbage known as kimchi. Other types of popular salted and fermented vegetables include radishes, celery and sprouts. Nonetheless, the benefits of the lactobacillus bacteria are found in the many varieties of pickled vegetables. Kimchi is considered a superfood, an important part of the Korean diet.

The Korean diet is less punishing to the body than an American one, if only because of its lack of sugar. Dairy and sugar have never been a part of the culture. While an abundance of salt can aggravate pre-existing conditions, sugar often creates entirely new health problems such as obesity.

South Koreans have their own version of sauna, their wellness culture involving hot water. It’s the jjimjilbang, which are public bathhouses with hot tubs, showers, and kiln saunas and large resting area with heated floors, where visitors can ease their muscles. South Koreans enjoy their jjimjilbang, going to regular sauna visits for real health benefits such as reductions in heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

While modern medicine aids in treating disease and increasing life expectancy in many countries, South Koreans spend most of their lives not interacting with the health care system. It’s the decisions made every day – like the food they eat, how far they walk – that are the much larger determinants of their health. For example, Seoul spends its government resources accordingly – like building projects to renew green spaces throughout the city to promote social engagement and increased physical exercise.

South Korea, like other top nations in the Lancet’s study, has a universal health care system guaranteeing all citizens the right to obtain proper care. While American medicine is more focused on specialists, evidence shows that primary care is more closely associated with lower costs and higher outcomes.

Enjoying Longevity Foods at U-District in Seattle

Thinking long life and health traditions? Then sample what we offer here at Korean Tofu House, your neighborhood UW Korean restaurant. Know more about what makes our classics healthy.

The Healing Powers of Korean Food Remedies

Foods That Heal

Mothers around the world love cooking soothing foods for their sick children. It’s just how mothers are. In Korea, however, there are foods widely believed to not just be soothing for the sick, but can treat and prevent diseases, lead to recovery and boost health.

Koreans have been using foods as remedies since the monarchy days of Korea. There’s a widely known written document of these culinary remedies, found in Donguibogam, edited by a royal physician during the Joseon dynasty in the 17th century. It consist of 25 volumes of how ailments affect organs and what can be done to treat and prevent diseases. It is still highly regarded and widely used by Eastern Medicine doctors. There may be little to no scientific data on the powers of these foods but they are nonetheless widely believed to be curative. Here are some of these Korean healing dishes.

Samgyetang is chicken with ginseng soup. It’s made with a whole small chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, garlic, red dates, peeled chestnuts, and ginseng. It is believed to help regulate body temperatures as ginseng warms up the body, especially the stomach. Another warm soup is Kongnamul-guk, soybean sprout soup, served with Korean chili flakes or without. Commonly believed to help cure adult hangovers, they say the saltiness and the natural vitamins found in soybean sprouts, helped “clean” the liver and stomach. Another is Miyeok-guk or seaweed soup. It’s made with a protein broth, usually beef broth and seaweed. In Korea, new moms are given this as part of their recovery diet in the hospital. Seaweeds are rich in minerals – calcium, phosphorus, iron and iodine – considered important during pregnancy and lactation.

Jook or rice porridge is a Korean staple for the sick, especially those with stomach aches. It’s made by slow-boiling rice that’s been left out to soak in water for many hours. The soft, moist texture of the porridge is easily swallowed and digested to calm the stomach. Kimchi. Two types commonly consumed for health benefits are ggakdugi, or spicy radish kimchi for hangover, and mul-kimchi, or water kimchi, said to hydrate and replenish the body with salts that sweat out.

Baesuk or Korean pear punch/tea is a traditional Korean punch/tea made by poaching or steaming Korean pear with black peppercorns, honey, and ginger. If served hot, commonly used as a remedy for the common cold, sore throat, or cough. Ginger to keep the body warm, the honey to soothe the throat, and the Korean pear to help with digestion. Yuja-cha or yuja tea, made with yuja marmalade in hot water. The tea is often enjoyed in the winter, to warm up, or to treat cold, because it is especially high in vitamin C. Yuja has 2.3 times as much vitamin C as the equivalent amount of raw lemon juice.

Trying Korean Healing and Soothing Foods

Want to know more about Korea’s healing foods? Find out more when you dine at UW Seattle Korean Tofu House.