In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting our incredible friends and colleagues in Portland, OR, by sharing their experiences and amplifying their achievements.
Family has always been a key element in James Beard-nominated chef and restaurateur Peter Cho’s story—who left a decade-long stint in NYC to be closer to his parents—and it was his partner and restaurant co-owner, Sun Young Park, who found the space on Craigslist that would eventually become Han Oak. Peter and Sun have jokingly referred to Han Oak as their middle child, as the couple has not stopped pouring their heart, soul and heritage into every aspect of the restaurant, all while running their second restaurant, Toki and caring for their young children.
Even with hectic schedules, time-consuming careers, and making time for family—Peter and Sun find the time to support and uplift their community—including multiple collaborations with our very own MISE team, which we are endlessly grateful for!
And now, we’ll hand the mic over to Peter and Sun, to talk about their favorite dishes and those who inspire them within the PDX community.
MISE: When you’re not bringing delicious dishes to life for others, where and what are you eating in Portland as a family?
PC & SYP: “Mom has been staying with us on an extended visit and we relish it. We open the door to the aroma of home-cooked Korean meals. We feel giddy and excited to see what’s cooking as our appetites are stirred. It’s a little painful to think how fleeting these moments are but we cherish it that much more and really love feeling like kids again.”
MISE: What's something your Mom cooks that takes you back and will always remind you of home?
SYP: “My mom makes a chilled kimchi noodle salad that has been my favorite meal since the first time she ever made it for me. If I had to pick a food that represents the love and connection between she and I, this would be it. It’s what I cook with most confidence and why, for all the reasons above, it is on our menu at Han Oak year after year.”
MISE: Who are some other AAPI chefs or culinary professionals you want our community to celebrate?
PC & SYP: “These past couple years have really brought to light those that use their culinary skills to truly uplift the community."
Another Cho family (Dave and Lois Cho, of CHO Wines) has moved into town and we want to extend a warm welcome to them. Our Asian hearts swell with pride and excitement as we watch Dave and Lois Cho set down roots as the first, and only — Korean winemakers in Oregon.
Jin and Kyu of JinJu Patisserie are an inspired dream team, Korean duo making Portland’s finest chocolates and desserts. The talent, skill, and work ethic between the two of them is so immense we bow down to show respect or to cry because they’re always sold out.
Ota Tofu, owned and operated by the Ota family for over a hundred years, is the oldest tofu manufacturer in the country. It’s recently been taken over by the Ogata Family who continue to provide a consistently fresh, handmade product while preserving this institution’s incredible legacy of survival.”