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AANHPI Month: Ohsun Banchan Deli & Cafe

Growing up, Sara Upshaw had some difficulty communicating with her grandmother, Oh Sun Pak, due to a language barrier. But, like many families, food is the connection that forges bonds that last for generations. Sara “grew up knowing how to feed a crowd” from being at family gatherings with her grandmother. That connection to culture through her grandmother’s food has influenced the trajectory of her whole life and provided the name Ohsun for her café in Pioneer Square.

Ohsun Banshan serves up traditional Korean food prepared with the bounty of the Pacific Northwest and a little flare from Sara’s southern roots. Sara shares a few thoughts about what it’s like owning a business and recommends a few dishes for you to try.

What is the hardest part of owning a business?

The unpredictability is by far the hardest thing about owning a business. You can plan for trends all you’d like but anything (it’s too rainy, it’s too sunny, a new article came out promoting an ingredient you happen to use, anything!) can alter the customer flow pattern which is hard to plan for.

What do you love to eat at your own café?

One of my favorite things to eat is our Korean-American BBQ Meatballs. It has a tang from familiar BBQ sauce flavors, but I add gochujang to give it an oomph that I really enjoy. It goes great with our purple rice and cucumber muchim, which is why it comes with those items in the meal!

What do you want people to know about Korean culture or food?

That it’s not all about KBBQ and Korean corn dogs. There’s such a huge variety of meals in Korean cuisine, that especially focuses on produce. There was a time long ago when the majority of the country was vegetarian which is why we have some incredible vegetable-focused dishes.

What is the best part of owning your business?

Our community. We have patrons that have become regulars, folks that have followed OHSUN’s journey from the beginning, and people that live in and work in the neighborhood that are so thankful that we exist. They truly champion us because they want to make sure we stick around. That’s something you only get when you’re a small business trying to thrive in the sea of corporate entities taking over neighborhoods. 

The café is located at 221 1st. Ave S. in Pioneer Square. To learn more about Ohsun, or to check out their menu visit: