Photo by keso s, Flickr

To us, Sizzler was the epitome of the American meal. We could have big steaks, the likes of which were expensive in Korea, reserved only for special occasions. There were nice cloth napkins you put on your lap. The waitresses were friendly and would refill your drinks for you; the drink glasses were enormous. At restaurants in Korea, we had to refill our own drinks and serve our own tea from a pitcher on the counter. We had to yell to get the waitress to come to our table. The American waitresses came by on their own, and brought us complimentary slices of cheese toast — warm and crisp, salty and buttered, with just the right amount of soft white bread in the middle.

And, of course, there was the salad bar. Like the steaks, it was also the American dream epitomized, in all its shiny brass-and-glass glory. It was all-you-can-eat — you could never go hungry in America. All the vegetables, fruit, and lettuce you could ever possibly eat were here.

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee writing in Eater about moving to America from South Korea and shaping her new life through American icons like Sizzler.

Read the story