L E T ' S B E G I N. . .
When discussing how to approach this project, our group agreed that food plays a significant role in the development and evolution of culture. Food brings together multitudes of communities containing people from substantially different backgrounds and allows them to make new connections over Instagram-worthy meals. Ethnic restaurants in the United States also allow immigrant communities to strengthen their cultural identities. To those outside of these ethnic groups, an inviting introduction to the nuances and roots of new cultures inspires newfound understanding and admiration. In San Francisco, the importance of innovation significantly alters how culture is translated through food, thus creating new and incredibly appetizing "fusion" dishes that combine multiple elements in order to stand out. With these elements in mind, we wanted to explore the role of Korean American restaurants in the City's food scene and examine business models, immigration patterns, and of course, the food. Over the course of several weeks, our group set out and trekked across San Francisco's multitude of neighborhoods in order to sample and survey a select group of Korean American restaurants. Each setting is unique in its own way; it might be a small hole-in-the-wall type setting or it might be a Chipotle-style entrepreneurial venture. We spoke with restaurant owners in order to understand their motives for venturing into this incredibly taxing industry and asked how this work has impacted themselves and their community. In all, this project serves to demystify Korean American restaurants. They are often portrayed as "exotic" and fall victim to the same Orientalist tropes that other Asian American restaurants constantly deal with. By humanizing the people and dreams behind these spaces, we hope to gain a deeper respect for the impact that Korean American restaurants make on our cityscapes.