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Seattle food blogger to open Korean banchan store

When Sara Upshaw from Seattle started her food blog, Kimchi Halfie, seven years ago, she knew she wanted to be in the kitchen and share her passion for Korean food with her family, but she still hadn’t figured out what it would look like.

Then, like so many people have, during the pandemic she had a little revelation and figured out exactly what she needed to do. Today, the professional photo editor and food blogger turned pop-up chef and cookbook author is finalizing her plan to open a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle dedicated to her vision of Korean cuisine and focused on banchan.

While she is still looking for locations for Ohsun Banchan Deli and Café, with the hope of opening it next year, in late spring or early summer, Upshaw is finishing a great year.

Upshaw’s first cookbook, “Korean barbecue at home“came out in November, complementing the unique recipes collected on her blog over the past few years. And earlier in the year, she teamed up with a friend to form the Jinjja pop-up – a fun one-hour activity. night to try something new during the pandemic.

Jinjja’s success led to more pop-ups, and Upshaw was inspired. “It was really fun to watch,” and she found herself reaching people that she previously couldn’t just on her blog. “It was so successful I was like, ‘I just want to do this full time. “”

While his book focused on Korean barbecue, Ohsun will focus on a less flashy side of cooking: sides served with rice as part of Korean meals. “Think of banchan as punctuation,” suggests Ohsun’s Instagram. “They keep the conversation going over a meal.” She plans to offer a wide variety of traditional dishes as well as her own modified versions, all prepared in small batches and including gluten-free and vegan banchan.

Upshaw named Ohsun after his Korean grandmother, who raised five children herself and welcomed her sister and four nieces and nephews, teaching Upshaw the flavors of her cooking. “She’s the reason I grew up knowing how to feed a crowd. Although Upshaw grew up loving the comfort food her halmoni served, she never considered it something she could do professionally. But seeing the reaction to the pop-up, she says something clicked in her mind. “I’m supposed to do this.”

In Ohsun, in addition to selling its banchan to people to take home and complementing their own Korean meals, Upshaw aims to ensure that people can see potential ways to incorporate them into meals, so the cafe will offer a small menu of prepared Korean soups. , stews and dishes. “The food that I recognize growing up that makes me feel at home,” she describes. Beyond cold cuts and coffee, Ohsun’s third element will be an organized pantry, including some of the Korea-specific versions of ingredients that people like Upshaw haven’t always grown up with, like gravy. Korean soybean.

Upshaw calls their cooking style their own take on Korean cuisine, not necessarily strictly traditional, but not fusion either. “I respect each dish as what it wants to be, and then I change things as I would like to eat it myself.” Jinjja’s menu offers a taste of his style: a Korean version of the Seattle dog, a kimchi and cheese macaroni with spam, short rib bucatini and “mandu tots” with dumplings and au aioli. gojuchang.

Seeing the enthusiastic reaction to her food and interacting with the people who eat her food showed Upshaw what she wanted to do, the dream she had never really been able to achieve and the outlet for her continuing passion. “Sounds like my goal,” a feeling strong enough to make her commit to finding a location and making Ohsun a reality.