The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac is the basis for the symbols associated with the years on the Chinese calendar. This is a Zodiac recognized by a number of Asian countries, China and Japan being among these. As our Auburn teriyaki restaurant has a foot in both countries, the story behind this Zodiac is an important one to us.

As is the case with many legends, the specific details of the Zodiac story are not widely agreed upon. Some say that it started with Buddha inviting the animals to oversee his departure from Earth, while others say it was the Jade Emperor inviting the animals to his birthday celebration. Some say that the twelve animals who showed up were rewarded with a position on the calendar, while others say that a competition was staged to see which animals would get the highest positions. Even the specific animals that belong in the calendar are not entirely agreed upon. However, the most common version places the rat in the first position, followed by the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and the pig.

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Rice Through the Millennia

Have you ever wondered about the history of rice? From ancient times to our Auburn teriyaki restaurant, this crop is undoubtedly the most important crop ever cultivated by mankind. It has been a primary food source for more people over a longer period of time than anything else ever grown, gathered, or slaughtered, with a history going back thousands of years.

The earliest known record of rice being cultivated as a food source goes back to 2500 BC in ancient China. It spread throughout the world from there, its great versatility proving to be a boon everywhere it went. It could be grown in anything from deserts to wetlands, and its nutritional value made it a staple throughout Asia and the Mediterranean. Come take a taste of this ancient tradition at Sunny Teriyaki!

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What is Curry?

The classic curry sauce, like the one you might find at our Auburn teriyaki restaurant, is a familiar enough sight for many people. But what is curry, exactly? The answer is actually quite complicated.

In truth, the concept of “curry” is a bit of a Western contrivance. It is thought that the word was derived from the Tamil word for sauce, “kari”. Therefore, trying to order a curry in its native land may prove to be a frustrating affair. Further, while you’d be likely to find dishes that taste similar to curry, true curry dishes do not exist in India.

It’s also a common misconception that curry is, by itself, a spice. Curry is actually an umbrella term used to describe a selection of spice mixtures. The standard spices found in what we call curry include coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, and red pepper. Some people will add to this caraway, cinnamon, clove, fennel, green or black cardamom, or nutmeg.

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The Japanese Tradition of Five

In Japan, the number five is a very important one. The next time you dine at our Auburn teriyaki restaurant, take a good look at the venue and the food that you are served. If you look carefully, you might notice how the tradition of five is brought out in five different ways in an authentic Japanese meal.

  • The Five Senses: You don’t experience your meal only with your tongue and nose. Your food should also be presented attractively to please the eye. Your utensils and dishware ought to feel pleasing to the touch. The venue you dine in should treat your ears to a pleasing sound and ambiance. When all five senses are happy, your enjoyment of the meal is complete.
  • The Five Colors: White, black, green, red, and yellow are Japan’s five elemental colors. Japanese artists and architects have aspired to feature a balance of these colors within their work, and chefs try to work all five into a perfect meal. As an added benefit, this lends itself to a healthy balance of nutrition with red protein, green and yellow vegetables, and black and white grains and starches.
  • The Five Cooking Methods: Raw, simmered, fried, steamed, and roasted or grilled are the five common ways Japanese food is prepared. Working your way through a complete dining experience in this way is a great way to add complexity and nuance to your dining experience.
  • The Five Taste Sensations: We all recognize bitter, sour, salt, and sweet as the four taste sensations. To this, Japan adds umami, which might be understood as “savory”.
  • The Five Mantras: Buddhist traditions provide Japan with a philosophical approach to their food, which comes in the form of these five attitudes:
    • I reflect on the work that went into producing this food for me.
    • I reflect on my flaws, and ponder whether or not I deserve this food.
    • Allow my mind to be free from all prejudices and greed.
    • I take this food to maintain good bodily health.
    • I accept this food to further my pursuit of enlightenment.
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How the Fortune Cookie Crumbles

The fortune cookie is a common feature of many Asian-style restaurants, similar to our Auburn teriyaki restaurant. Many people are still surprised to hear that this famous cookie did not actually originate in Asia. Quite the contrary, this is an innovation that started right here in the United States, and one that some Chinese visitors find quite foreign and baffling.

The specific origin of the fortune cookie is not known, though there are several stories offered. One attributes the cookie to a Japanese immigrant named Makoto Magiwara, who made the first fortune cookie in 1914 in San Francisco. It is said that he created this first cookie to send a thank-you note to the mayor, a tradition that is linked to similar traditions in Japan.

One of the other more common stories attributes the cookie to David Jung, a Chinese-American baker in Los Angeles. According to this account, he distributed simple cookies with encouraging words inside them to the poor people he saw around his bakery.

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Pigging Out on Pork

Pork is a huge fixture of many Asian cuisines. At our Auburn teriyaki restaurant, you can find the other white meat in the form of our sweet and sour pork, our pork teriyaki, and our pork gyoza. Drop on by to get a fix of your favorite pork today!

The use of pork as a food source goes back to ancient times. Bones found in south-eastern Turkey indicate that pigs were first domesticated for their meat as early as 8,000 BC. The practice made its way to China around 4,900 BC. The raising of pigs and the consumption of pork spread throughout Asia from there, and has remained a significant part of many culinary traditions to this day.

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The Celebration of Tanabata

According to ancient legends from China, the seventh day of the seventh month is when the stars Altair and Vega are able to overcome the celestial boundaries that separate them and finally come together. Japan celebrates this occasion with a holiday they call Tanabata, or the Star Festival.

During this festival, the people of Japan traditionally write their wishes on strips of paper. They then tie their wishes to the branches of special bamboo trees, which are erected in public areas specifically for the occasion. Tradition states that wishes written down in this way are more likely to be realized.

Depending on where you go in Japan, Tanabata could be held on either July or August 7th, depending on which calendar the region observes. Whenever it is celebrated, it is an occasion for fun festivities and family togetherness. Come and pay tribute to the stars yourself at our Auburn teriyaki restaurant!

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The Year of the Horse

Chinese New Year of 2014 marks the arrival of the Year of the Horse for our Auburn teriyaki restaurant. Representing the seventh position on the Chinese Zodiac, people born under the Horse are said to embody traits of strength, energy, and extrovertism. They are also known to be a little self-centered, occasionally throwing tantrums if they cannot get their way.

Horses tend to be attracted to careers where they can be around other people. They like to be the center of attention, preferably with the power to act as their own bosses with characteristic spontaneity and adaptability. If you are a Horse, you may do well as a salesman, a journalist, a performer, a publicist, or a teacher.

The spontaneous nature of Horses lends them to impulsive, passionate relationships with others. These can be exhausting and potentially over-dramatic, though Horses do tend to mellow out with age.

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Yummy Yakisoba!

Are you a fan of a good yakisoba? Come on down to the Sunny Teriyaki restaurant in Auburn, and you can order up this Japanese favorite with chicken, beef, shrimp, or vegetables, or go all out with our combination yakisoba.

If you’re not familiar with the word, yakisoba is a Japanese variety of fried noodle. Though its name may make you think that it would be similar to the Japanese soba noodles, the dish is actually more akin to the Chinese chow mein. The Japanese frequently dine on this dish at festivals, and foreigners living in Japan frequently take to the noodles in a big way. Try it out for yourself at Sunny Teriyaki today!

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What is Kung Pao?

Everybody’s heard of kung pao chicken. It’s a common staple in American Chinese-style restaurants, and a popular choice at our teriyaki restaurant in Auburn. It consists of small pieces of chicken meat marinated in a mix of roasted peanuts, bell peppers, chili peppers, rice wine, and hoisin sauce. People love it for its delightful intermingling of hot and sweet flavors, which has cemented its position as a flagship dish for any wok menu.

The dish originated in the Sichuan Province of central-western China. It derives its name from a man by the name of Ding Baozhen, who was a governor of the province in the late Qing Dynasty. His title was “palace guardian”, or Gōng Bǎo in the native language. This term eventually became Romanized as “kung pao”, and the name has stuck to this day.

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914 D St NE
Auburn, WA 98002

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