Friday, June 04, 2004

A Taste of Kaya

Ben, Eric, and I having lunch at this little burrito joint near Eric's work.

For today's excursion, Ben took me to Japantown. The first 20 min or so were not so enjoyable as I really, really had to pee, but I was doing my best to act all casual and not do the pee dance. I got that taken care of, and the rest of the time was fine. We checked out the large Japan Center, which was a mall, but filled with Japanese (and some Korean) stores.

I decided on a combined Korean and Japanese dinner, so we went to the appropriate grocery stores Woo Ri and Nijiya.

My Korean mother hated the Japanese because of WWII for a very long time. For example, she got upset when my sister bought a Toyota. But times have changed, and so has my mother. During WWII, the Japanese military kidnapped many young women in the countries they occupied and forced them to become camp sex slaves. But a few years back, a Japanese women's group forced their government to acknowledge the tragedy and issue an apology. My mother was heartened by what the Japanese women's group did and said to me that "government is not people." Now, years later, she watches Japanese game shows on satellite TV and reads books on bonsai.

Because of how my mother was about Japanese people, I was rather shocked to find not one, but several Japanese-Korean restaurants in Boston, Massachusetts. The first one I went to was "Kaya." The restaurant was named after the kingdom of Kaya, which was located on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula. Unlike other kingdoms of the peninsula at that time (Paekche, Silla, Koguryo), Kaya had very strong relations with several southwestern Japanese kingdoms. It was a perfect name for the restaurant, and I thoroughly enjoyed eating childhood favorites along with Japanese foods that were very new to me at that time. I for one, think fiery Korean kimchi is perfectly complimented by sushi.

Marinating tofu with soy sauce, garlic, mustard powder, sugar, and toasted sesame oil

Stuffing the inari (sweet bean curd pockets)

Rolling the kim bap (Korean nori rolls), then slicing (and eating the sloppy ends)

A vegetarian taste of Kaya: Cabbage Kimchi, Kim Bap, Pickled Ginger, Inari-zushi, Scallion Kimchi, Tofu Nigiri-zushi

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