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Thursday April 24, 2014
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Korea via Hungary

 

continued

and thought it sounded good. So did her parents. While her sister taught English, Lin started a Korean restaurant in Hungary, the first Tianchu. She learned to speak Hungarian, a notoriously difficult language. "At first it was so hard, I wanted to go home, but my whole family was there. So I learned."

Hers was one of a handful of Korean restaurants in Hungary, and she says it was successful and well known. But she was restless, and so was the rest of the family. Gradually the entire clan made its way to southeastern Michigan. Her sister now lives in Novi with her husband, who works for Bosch. Lin, her husband, her fifteen-year-old son, and her parents live in Ann Arbor. Her mother does most of the cooking at Tianchu, a name Lin translates as "celestial kettle." The shy granny in the quilted coat stirring pots in the kitchen, Cui says firmly, is "a really cool mom. A really modern woman. Twenty years ago, no one wanted to leave Korea, but she encouraged us to travel."

Tianchu isn't exclusively a Korean restaurant, but it's not a diner hybrid either, like many local Korean restaurants. Instead of bacon and eggs, she rounds out the traditional Korean menu with Chinese and Taiwanese dishes and--"because I know people like it"--bubble tea.

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