“Refreshingly written, wittingly articulated. Seoul Food allows you to taste the bitter sweetness of immigrant life.”

Steve Myung
Writer and Director

Seoul Food is a Must Read

Beneath the entertaining and lighthearted tales of her childhood lies the true message of her book, which is the importance of family, the search for identity, and love for humanity. Seoul Food is a must read, especially for 2nd and 3rd generation Asian Americans.

Katherine Iniba
"Halo Halo with Kat Iniba" Host/Producer

Seoul Food Peels Away the Mask

"Seoul Food peels away the mask that all Korean Americans are expected to wear in public and eloquently exposes what's underneath. As a Korean American preacher's kid of a prominent pastor that later "fell away from the faith" and became a stand up comedian, Seoul Food spoke to me in a very real way. I highly recommend it."

Paul PK Kim
Founder of Kollaboration, Co-Founder of Liberty in North Korea

Great book!!!

I really liked Seoul Food because it had two things that I really enjoyed: food and honesty. Some chapters were written short and simple and basically what was said was what was meant. Sometimes I chuckled, sometimes I nodded in agreement, and sometimes I just had to pause and take it all in. Other chapters seemed to cut deeper, and despite not being Korean or a first generation American in my family, I felt myself resonating with a lot of things including the struggles with the expectations that family and those who barely even know you have upon you and struggling to find your identity that honors those before you but also yourself as well. Seoul Food was an amazing reminder that we all go through many things and until we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with each other and share our stories then yeah, it will seem like we have nothing in common. Sarai Koo took that risk and was vulnerable and showed that a young Korean American girl growing up in Los Angeles had more than one thing in common with a young African American girl growing up in Chicago.


Seoul Food

Sarai Koo is able to beautifully capture the true complexities of what it means to grow up as a female Korean-American. Her stories will make you laugh, cry and inspire you to fully embrace your own life story.


Haven’t laughed this much in awhile and it gets better as the story progresses

This book had me laughing on every page!! Haven't laughed this much in awhile and it gets better as the story progresses. Also, this book made me appreciate the Korean culture. The stories were relatable and reminded me about my past, friends and family. This is definitely worth reading. I ordered mine on kindle and just ordered 6 more books this week to give it to friends as gifts.


Excellent book, funny and moving

Loved this book! It was great insight of the Asian American family. Funny, articulate, moving. I highly recommend it to those who like to read great stories about life and family.


Honestly written

Sarai Koo accurately, and emotionally depicts many colors of the life of a Korean-American first generation: the joy, the pain, the confusion, and most importantly, strong family ties and love. Love that is shown in unique ways. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about Korean- American culture, conflict, and love. The book provides for a good laugh and good cry.


The Most Important Book of Today

This book is one of the most honest, funny, and insightful books I have ever read. Each page comes to life and impacts you in a different way each time. Koo delicately explores the human condition and what her life experiences have influenced her knowledge of the human condition. Koo wrote the book in such a way that it's not like you're reading a piece of text, but connecting to her personally. This is a book I consider a must read and recommend to anyone and everyone who wants to learn more about themselves, the world, and spirituality.

Courtney Loi

Great Book! This is a Must Read!

This is a great book. I love how Sarai was able to share her Korean culture and upbringing using different Korean foods as metaphors. I was impressed the most with the "ka-shi"; I absolutely agree with this metaphor. I did not grow up eating small fish, actually I chose not to eat any seafood growing up, but once my now husband introduced me to his cultural dishes almost 25 years ago (he is a first generation Japanese) I was also taught to be careful of the small fishbones on the white rice. Understanding about the "ka-shi" has given me hope to relate even more to the members of our Japanese congregation. Thank you, Teri, for sharing this book with me! I am so glad to have been given such a treasure of information. Thank you, Sarai, for writing this book! I am planning on sharing this book with the young people in our church. Thank you, again! Wonderful book!!! (I have yet to ask my husband this word "ka-shi" in Japanese.)


Engaging, thoughtful, and deep!

Seoul Food gives a refreshing and truthful mix to the understanding of immigrant experiences in Los Angeles. Putting stereotypes of Asian American experiences on its head, it unveils the lives of Korean Americans and the struggles they've faced with identity and culture.Yet, beyond the cultural understanding it lends to readers, there is also a contemplative spirit about the author as she sincerely describes her experiences and thoughts growing up. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an engaging and light filled book with a deep message!


Amazing read!

I could totally relate to the author and think this was an amazing book! I hope she comes out with a part II. Excited to read more about her journey!

Jay LC

A Voice For a New Generation of Americans

I loved this book because it addresses the experience of a young Korean American living a bicultural identity. Although I am not Korean American, I related to her stories of navigating the home identity of her immigrant parents and the pressures to conform to American society (which is not easy). This coming of age story through the eyes of a young woman is a must read for high school and college level students because it hits on the themes of gender identity, ethnic stereotypes, adolescence and family relationships. This book can be integrated into an Ethnic Studies, Sociology, Women's Studies and even an English course. The chapters are short, broken down into three major parts and the reading goes fast because each chapter story is interesting. Dr. Koo is an up and coming storyteller.



A writer shares anecdotes from her youth in Los Angeles County’s Korean American community in this debut memoir.

The child of South Korean immigrants, Koo, along with her siblings, was forced to abide by certain traditional customs when she was growing up. This included respecting elders, like her grandmother, even when their behavior was somewhat bizarre: “Without our permission, my dad’s mom rampaged through our house with a pair of silver shears, grabbing and cutting pieces of our clothing, big blankets, and any available patches of fabric…She took those pieces of old and new fabric to make oddly-patched small pillow covers.” Sometimes this traditional Korean worldview was shocked by the reality of the family’s American surroundings: Koo’s father’s first gas station was on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Central LA, and a few months after he sold it, the building was set on fire during the city’s riots in 1992. But there was no shortage of other Koreans in LA County, and Koo’s childhood was an often hilarious clash between her American-born peers and her parents’ immigrant generation. At the center of it all, there was always a table laden with traditional food: jeon, bibimbap, banchan, bulgogi, and even the Korean adaptation of the American hamburger (or hambegeo, as the author’s mother called it). Koo’s prose is conversational and amusing, managing to make both Korean and American cultures appear simultaneously alien and familiar: “Ken had long bangs that dangled to the sides of his chin. He was a young eleventh grade ‘wangsta,’ a wannabe gangsta, who wore baggy clothes….He often went to noraebangs to drink, smoke, and sing the latest Korean songs with his fellow wangsta friends, and sometimes he got into trouble.” The book is a thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age tale of a somewhat precocious girl finding her way in a particularly loud and chaotic environment where the old and the new rested side by side and not always comfortably. Additionally, the work captures a specific time and place in the history of LA and the so-called “Third Wave” of immigration to the United States.

A compelling and often funny account of growing up in one of America’s Korean enclaves.

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