Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Korean Influences

On the right: Portrait of a Beauty by Shin Yun-bok (born 1758), source

This was almost a month ago, back in March, so no fresh green leaves on the trees behind me, neither blue bells, nor dandelions by my feet just yet. Our two-week-long Summer which I was writing about a couple of times lately was not hot (even our real Summer is rarely hot, for which I am greatly appreciative), but we steadily had temperatures around 70 F (21 C) and glorious SUNSHINE, both of which make me insanely happy. It felt like having a mini vacation to restore both my physical and emotional health. But, we now have mild Spring temperatures again, clouds, sprinkles, in other words, all as usual, and while I am not having any new outfits to share from this week, I still have a few outfits and stories to share from the past month or so. Are you ready? Let's go.


It was a weekend when Justin and I went out for Korean food. Actually, we thought we were going out for Japanese food (mainly for sushi), but I got confused with two restaurants' names, both successfully established in the city of Federal Way with a large population of Koreans (our Little Seoul, as I call it), but new to us. We are no rookies when it comes to Korean food. Korean cuisine is one of my most favorite of all world cuisines, and I was a little familiar with some of it even when I lived in Siberia.


There are about 500,000 Koreans in Russia and ex-USSR countries (or Koryo-saram, as they refer to themselves), with the largest Korean population in Kazakhstan (100,000), Russia (153,000) and Uzbekistan (184,000). Their ancestors either lived or moved to the Russian Far East in the 1860s, settled down and had their own newspapers, colleges, theaters etc. Read more about the history of Koryo-saram here in English and here in Russian. These days, as it happens quite often, young generations do not speak the language of their ancestors, but as it is common in all Asian cultures, they are quite strong in keeping their ancient traditions when it comes to family life, relationships between women and men, between young and old, and of course their home cooking. One of the very common dishes known to every Russian is so-called Korean Carrots - shredded carrots, quickly prepared in a fragrant spicy marinade. 


Since I knew I was coming to an Asian place and I knew it would be quite casual, I wanted to look somewhat Asian, a little minimalistic, so I picked this Melissa McCarthy poncho sweater and an elaborate necklace from Chico's new series Collectibles - fantastic costume jewelry pieces, this one is inspired by Japanese culture. The sweater actually has a cowl-neck collar, but I modified (folded) it into a shawl collar to fit this beautiful necklace. If you look closely on the profile photo above, you'll see faux leather trim and buttons on my sweater.


Back to cuisine now. As I said earlier, we arrived not at the restaurant that I thought it would be. Akasaka is a Korean food and Korean style Japanese food restaurant, which I would rate highly for their very relaxed, inviting atmosphere. Authentic places can be a little intimidating, but here you'll most probably feel like home right away. It is praised for affordable sushi. I tried some of my most favorite sashimi - salmon and red caviar (ikura), and they were good.

Holding a Drinking Bout by Shin Yun-bok (source)



We ordered a few different dishes, to sort of test what their cooking was like. I would say, all in all it's pretty good, though some dishes, considering that we have plenty of Korean places around, I have had better. Justin was really happy with the salmon he ordered. As always, Koreans start their feast with a variety of kimchi - that's what they call fermented vegetables. Yes, not only Napa cabbage is called kimchi, but other types of vegetables prepared in that manner, just so you know. Cucumbers, radishes and eggplant are very common kimchi as well. Kimchi is praised for health benefits and was selected as one of the world's healthiest foods. It does not have to be super spicy, by the way. When I traveled in Tawian, I remember that kimchi was offered at street markets in the whole range of spiciness, from mild to extra spicy, and so is pretty much any dish at a Korean restaurant, so feel free to order your level of spicy. I used to love it so hot that I'd cry, but I noticed that lately I prefer it a little milder, while Justin is the opposite - he did not like spicy at all before he met me, and now he likes it sometimes even spicier than me!


After a few kimchi dishes, they brought us Spicy Beef and Noodle Soup which I love (photo above). If you want to eat it the Korean way, scoop a little steamed rice with your spoon (notice the adorable round Korean spoon with a long handle), and then dip it into your soup. The rice absorbs the flavors of the soup this way. Koreans always serve rice with soup, similar to the Western the tradition of serving bread with soup and dunking it. Rice is Asian bread.


The seafood pancake (photo above) is our daughter's favorite, it is marvelous when well prepared. It can be done with vegetables only, or a mix of veggies and seafood pieces. I love when they serve it with a special sauce, but not all places do it. At Akasaka, they serve it with Sesame seeds covered soy sauce. I ordered it for Anya and brought it home, knowing that it would make her happy. Justin had grilled salmon, a generous portion which he was grateful for. :)

On the left: Women at Fish Market by Shin Yun-bok (source)


Lovers under the Moon by Shin Yun-bok (source)

Here you have it, Korean cuisine, a little bit of history of the folk on two continents, and an Asian-inspired outfit - all in one post.

Find out another Korean influence on our life in this post. Hmm, I wonder what it could be? ;)

Are you familiar with Korean cuisine? Do you love it? 
What are your favorite world cuisines? Do tell!


Poncho sweater - Melissa McCarthy via Lane Bryant
Jeans, shirt - Lane Bryant (old)
Boots - Aquatalia via Nordstrom Rack
Necklace - Chico's Collectibles
Clutch - Cole Haan via TJ MAX (old)

Linking up with Throw Back Thursday

***

28 comments:

  1. I love your fun necklace with this outfit. I love Korean food and get so excited with all the little side veggie dishes.

    Thank you for joining TBT Fashion link up and hope to see you next week. Have a great weekend!

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Alice. Those kimchi dishes are like little presents or a box of chocolates, every single time.

      Delete
  2. thank you for that trip to korean cuisine - i actually never had it! only japanese, thai and vietnamese and of cause chinese. we have the same thing with the spice! R. did not like spicy first but now he sometimes orders really hot stuff while i cant cope very well with very hot lately....
    i like the simple cut of your sweater and the marbled texture - and your necklace is just gorgeous! well done to mix minimal with bold!
    hugs! xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What it is with us and the boys, Beate? :)

      Delete
  3. That's fascinating about the Korean emigre population dating so far back, I had no idea. Especially that they outnumbered the Russians at one point... I wonder if there are any films or books in English about it? I love novels which unravel family history, and this seems like the perfect subject for that treatment. (I do like food and clothes, but the cultural stuff is the real reason I read your blog :) )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not aware of any novels around this subject, but I will keep my eyes open and let you know what I learn. Koreans outnumbered Russians? I must have missed it. I know that there were whole areas populated with Koreans in Siberia and Far East, but they mostly assimilated at this point of history. There were also Japanese people living in Vladivostok area, as I was told, but unlike Koreans, who saw possibilities in Siberia, they mostly decided to come back to Japan when they had a chance.

      Delete
  4. I've never had Korean food. We don't have a Korean population in the Midlands but I've seen a lot of Korean restaurants around east London when we trade down there. Is the food mostly meat and or fish based? As a vegetarian I don't expect there is much I could eat.
    Love the necklace you're wearing and how you've worn your jumper.
    We had a taste of Spring yesterday - no coat necessary! It's back to torrential rain and biting winds again today though! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are always vegetarian options, as a lot of Asians are Buddhists and traditionally they do not eat meat. Some of my most favorite vegetarian dishes are Soybean Paste soup and Spicy Tofu soup. Pretty much any dish can be made with vegetables and tofu in place of meat. I think you will enjoy this cuisine, Vix. :)

      Delete
  5. I love Korean food too, Natalia. We have lots of Korean restaurants in Vancouver, and many Japanese restaurants run by Koreans as well. I've never had a dish that I didn't like. I visited Seoul once and had a great time. The history of Koreans in Russia is so interesting.

    I love the simple lines of your outfit with the absolutely gorgeous necklace that stands out so well against the dark fabric. Perfect choice. Looks like the perfect evening!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would think your situation is pretty similar to ours, Melanie.
      I was not too impressed with kimchi soup myself - I loved the taste, but the texture of cooked kimchi was a bit awkward to my taste. :)

      Delete
  6. There are quite a few Korean restaurants near where we live so this post is right up my alley. I love Korean pulled pork. Loved the history you gave us. I never knew there were so many Koreans in Russia!
    Your necklace is stunning.

    http://petitesilvervixen.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I tried pulled pork Korean way, but pretty much anything they do with meat is awesome. I love bulgogi. The open fire grill where customers can pick and grill whatever meat or veggies they like, such a fun way to party with friends and family.

      Delete
  7. Nice blog, dear! :)
    Do you want to follow each other? If yes, please follow me with GFC, write a comment and I follow you back :)
    http://vesnamar.blogspot.rs/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Vesna is such a pretty name. :)

      Delete
  8. I also draw fashion inspiration from art and food, so I loved reading this. I haven't shopped with Chico's before, but I've browsed their site a few times over the past few months. I've noticed that they have a great jewelry collection, so I'm especially intrigued by this Collectibles line. I'll have to go check it out! I like eclectic, global-inspired pieces. I have several of my grandmother's from her travels and the boutique she owned. They're true treasures, but I love modern-day costume jewelry too. It may not be authentic to the time or place, but it still transports me.

    <3 Liz
    www.withwonderandwhimsy.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, both authentic and costume pieces can be great. I love Chico's, it's one of my go-to places for jewelry, dresses and jackets. Thank you, Liz!

      Delete
  9. it's so interesting to know something more about korean culture, as it's absolutely exotic for me (there aren't many people from Korea here in Spain!) The food looks tasty and healthy too, which is something I should like!!
    And you look cool and comfy, perfect to go out for dinner, with a fabulous oriental twist, love your necklace and how it enhances the whole outfit!
    besos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow it's hard to imagine many Koreans living in Spain, though there probably will be times when we all live in all sorts of unexpected places, and it will be a norm. I know that many Russians live in Spain these days... Thank you, Monica!

      Delete
  10. I haven't tried Korean food yet, I'm only familiar with it via food channels and documentaries but I know it is supposed to be very good. When it comes to Asian food, I've only tried Chinese food but I really liked it. It is different from my own cuisine but different in a good way...and in some ways it is even (suprisingly) similar. I like their spices, yet I don't liked too spicy food. My husband on the other hand, has no problem with spicy hot dishes. From what I've seen on TV, I think my husband would really enjoy Korean food.

    I know there is still a large number of Asians in Russia, I'm not familiar with the exact history of these migrations but I know that people in general used to migrate and travel a lot in the past. It is not surprising that there are (and were) many Asians in Russia since your homeland is spread over two continents (Europe and Asia), but I didn't know that Koreans came so early on and formed such an important community there. People nowaday don't realize just how much travelling and migrating happened in the past. I think it is just the human spirit. Something within us makes us want to explore, travel, explore new places...and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Korean food seems to be very popular in the USA, so good you're able to take advantage of that. I'm glad you enjoyed your meal. I understood you said you've had better when it came to some dish (compared to ther Korean food you had), but at least meal as whole was a good exerience for both of you. I hope you make it to that Japanese restoraunt you mistook for this one as well. :)

    I loved your outfit. You look gorgeous in this! That necklace is such a perfect accessory for such a minimalist combination. The painting you showcased next to it is so wonderful. I love traditional Asian paintings, they are so subtle in their simplicity. I was really fascinated when I 'discovered' Asian paintings for the first time. I remember it so clearly, my friend's father was a judo master so he had a lot of books about Japan and awards/certificates from Japan in his home and I used to borrow those books when I was little. It is great how you included bits of history and culture in this post, it was really interesting to read. I love taking fashion inspiration from history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this post, Ivana! I love exploring world cuisines. One learns quickly that people love food everywhere in the world, and are inventive in cooking in different ways. Though I really think that Chinese cuisine is the most inventive and versatile in the world, and if I had to choose one cuisine to the rest of my days, it would be Chinese. Korean cuisine has been becoming popular in the past few years in the US, and I am so happy that Seattle is one of the cities with large Korean population.

      Delete
  11. Lovely outfit! So glad I discovered your blog. I hope you're having an awesome weekend <3

    Blessings,
    Edye // Gracefulcoffee.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love this post Natalia!
    The rich history and photos and your gorgeous outfit, the lovely tweed, simple shapes, and the necklace, FROM CHIHO'S ???- wow, that was as surprise.
    The seafood pancake looks delish!
    I love the delicacy of Asian cultures, the is a certain restraint... yet ezquisite mindfulness!
    xx, Elle
    http://www.theellediaries.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed the post, Elle! Chico's have some truly wonderful pieces, I'm a big fan.

      Delete
  13. Oh, this poncho sweater is fab! Yay to Melissa McCarthy for such perfectly flattering clothing! And the necklace is superb. I only recently have been introduced to Korean food and I am currently loving it! But my ole standby for Asian cuisine will forever remain Japanese (hibachi and sushi)!

    Great post combining two of my very favorite things: fashion and food!

    Shelbee
    www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Shelbee! Glad to meet a fellow Asian food lover! :)

      Delete
  14. Great poncho/sweater top! The marled yarn reminds me of a sweater that I stole from my dad, that I wore and wore, and wore out.
    The food photos made my stomach growl. We just had sushi at our favorite local place, and I had a Korean dinner with a friend a few weeks ago. I'm VERY lucky here in LA -- I think we might have ALL the cuisines!

    Thanks for linking with 52 Pick-me-up! xxox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this type of yarn, I can see how you wore out your Dad's sweater. :) Food is so exciting, I am up to discover a new to me cuisine any day!

      Delete