Growing up, my family mostly ate Korean food. I grew up on kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodle soup), and bibimbap (rice mixed with different vegetables and meat). We didn’t eat a whole lot of meat, but we would have galbi or bulgogi on special occasions.
Korean food is familiar, comforting, and delicious. But because it is so familiar, it didn’t feel like a special occasion to eat Korean food. What did feel like a special occasion was dim sum. Every so often, we would go to the A&W Chinese Seafood Restaurant for dim sum. I loved ordering from the steam carts rolling around the restaurant.
When I came to Berkeley, I made more Chinese-American friends. On special occasions, we would go to Oakland Chinatown and get dim sum. I loved chatting out with my friends, sipping tea and ordering baskets of ha gow (shrimp dumplings), shumai, and sticky rice, and finishing with dan tat (egg tart).
When I passed the bar exam last November, I had a celebratory lunch with a few friends. Where did we go? A dim sum restaurant in Alameda.
Korean food will always be important to me. But dim sum will always mean celebration.