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The Migrant Kitchen

Ep. 5, Banchan: Korean Food Beyond BBQ

For 22 years, loyal diners have been flocking to the beloved Jun Won in Koreatown for a taste of their specialty: braised marinated black cod, with flavorful juices soaking into the daikon radish slices it sits upon. Unifying the fish is the restaurant’s sought-after spread of seasonal banchan (traditional Korean side dishes) that accompany it. 

Owner Yong Won Jun says that while Korean BBQ may get all the attention, there’s so much more to his culture’s cuisine. Their menu includes items like spicy sautéed octopus, kimchi casseroles, and spicy chicken soup. The concept behind this old-school eatery that he and his mother, Jung Ye Ju, run together is to serve food that reflects how they would eat at home, and to give busy people the chance to nourish themselves with a comforting meal after a hard day’s work. 

In this episode, the Jun family describes their highs and lows of immigrating to a new country, the resilience of their people, and the sacrifices they’ve had to make in order to survive. They immigrated to the United States in 1986, and at the time, Yong Won likened Los Angeles to dreary Gotham City. Those early days were trying times when his mother would go door to door selling lunch boxes before she managed to launch her restaurant that ended up becoming a success and was heralded by countless food critics.

But in the midst of success, the family has another challenge to overcome. We see the pivotal moment when the mother and son face a new heartbreaking chapter, as a real estate deal is forcing them out of the restaurant they’ve called home since 1994. But even in the darkest of times, their strength gives them hope and the will to start over again.

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Full Episodes
Season
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Episode
52:07
The Migrant Kitchen

The Migrant Kitchen

In American restaurants, immigrants are the backbone of the kitchen.
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Episode
11:20
The Migrant Kitchen

Banchan

The Jun family describes their highs and lows of immigrating to a new country.
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Episode
11:49
The Migrant Kitchen

Logmeh

Two women of Middle Eastern descent use food as a way to link back to their cultures.
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Episode
14:21
The Migrant Kitchen

Mercado

A glimpse into the lives of two Mexican families behind different business ventures.
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Episode
14:40
The Migrant Kitchen

Barkada

These immigrants have one foot in their Filipino culture and the other on American soil.
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Episode
10:25
The Migrant Kitchen

Chirmol

Jorge Dugal re-interprets his grandmother’s recipe for chirmol.
Pozole broth being poured tableside at restaurant El Jardin. | Still from "The Migrant Kitchen"
Episode
The Migrant Kitchen

S3 E3: El Jardín

Inspired by the traditions of generations of Mexican women and combining regional heirloom ingredients from across Mexico, Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins takes a huge risk to elevate the cuisine in her hometown.
the migrant kitchen hero
Episode
The Migrant Kitchen

The Migrant Kitchen 1-Hour Special

The Migrant Kitchen explores Los Angeles’ booming food scene through the eyes of a new generation of chefs whose cuisine is inspired by the immigrant experience.
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