Wednesday, May 15, 2013

just how Japanese is it?

I can understand why Japanese students groan when they come to Korea and eat "Japanese" food. I went to a Korean-Japanese resto earlier this evening and ordered a donggaseu jeongshik saeteu, sort of a donkatsu sampler set. Three kinds of donggaseu came out: pork, whitefish, and shrimp. Along with that was a pile of thinly shredded cabbage with a dab of dressing, a dipping bowl of tartar sauce, a dipping bowl of donggaseu brown sauce, a heaping tablespoon of minced ggakdugi (spicy, fermented, cubed white radish), some yellow danmuji (a.k.a. Japanese daikon), and a bowl of udong (Japanese udon).

Just how Japanese was this meal? I couldn't figure out what was Japanese about the ggakdugi, nor did I see what was Japanese about the tartar sauce, the shredded cabbage, or the Thousand Island dressing that topped the cabbage. Pretty much the only recognizably Japanese elements were the donggaseu itself, the udong/udon, and maybe the danmuji/daikon.

Perhaps one day, if enough Japanese come to live in Korea, there will be a movement to redress the Koreanization of Japanese food, just as there's been a movement to provide Koreans with "authentic" American food.

ADDENDUM: I completely forgot to mention the sprig of parsley. Very Japanese, that.


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