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South Korea seeks to strengthen its attractiveness as a fine dining destination

South Korea seeks to strengthen its attractiveness as a fine dining destination

Taking advantage of the fact that for the first time Seoul hosts this Tuesday the presentation of the list of the 50 best restaurants in Asiathe South Korean Government seeks to reinforce the image of its capital as a high-end destination gastronomy and encourage visits to other regions in search of local products and recipes.

“The one that the event on the list 50 Best “in Asia being held in South Korea is important in demonstrating the great progress of the national food and beverage industry and the great global popularity of Korean products,” explains the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Song Mi-ryung, in a written interview with EFE.

In that sense, Song highlights how, in the heat of the growing popularity of “Hallyu” (the so-called Korean cultural wave), the value of the exports of edible products from the Asian country has grown more than one fifty% since 2015 or how the number of Korean restaurants in Paris has more than doubled compared to before the pandemic.

Also that “Eleven of the 72 Michelin-starred restaurants in New York are Korean establishments.”

The minister also recalls that Seoul is an important gastronomic destination – different surveys show that food is the main attraction for those who visit the country – and that in the latest local edition of the Michelin guide there are 33 starred establishments.

The importance of “Hansik”

One of the restaurants that has done the most to spread the culture around “Hansik”, traditional Korean cuisine, is Mingles, by chef Kang Min-goo who has just turned a decade old and has achieved 13th place – the best for a Korean restaurant – on this year’s 50 Best list for Asia.

“Compared to ten years ago, attention to Korean cuisine has undergone a great change”explains Kang in a booth at his establishment, located in the Cheongdam neighborhood, in the famous Gangnam district.

“We always try to maintain our gastronomy as a fundamental base; We respect traditional Korean cuisine”the chef details regarding his menus, which fuse that love for “Hansik” with the experiences and techniques he absorbed during his years living in Spain, where he worked, for example, at Martín Berasategui, or the United States, where he worked at Nobu Matsuhisa stores.

Mingles’ selection of desserts – from puffed rice cake with Yellow Sea seaweed to chocolate macaron and “gochugaru” (chili powder) or crème brûlée with doenjang (fermented soybean paste), sunflower seed and jujube – serves to perfectly explain what Kang seeks to convey to his diners, half of whom, he says, are usually foreigners .

Is about “a new style of Korean cooking” that respects the “essence” of an ancestral national gastronomy and at the same time surprises by combining the culture “Hansik” with textures, techniques or dressings from other latitudes.

Kang also wanted to convey his respect for the culinary arts of his country with his recently published book “Jang. “The soul of Korean cooking” (“Jang. The soul of Korean cuisine”), an exploration of the three “jang” (sauces or pastas) that constitute the pillars of “Hansik” and explains how the three can be combined in recipes that fuse diverse cuisines.

Specialties beyond the capital

Minister Song is convinced that hosting Asia’s 50 Best list this year “will serve as an opportunity to introduce various ingredients of Korean food and the excellent chefs of Korea to the gastronomic world beyond South Korea”.

With the growing popularization of Korean culture and the country as a tourist and gastronomic destination – the city of Busan, the second in the country, was included for the first time in the latest Michelin Guide – the idea is to attract more and more food lovers. good eating to destinations beyond Seoul.

Kimchi alone, the most famous preparation in Korean cuisine, has about 200 varieties, many of them regional, such as, for example, the one prepared with mustard leaves in Jeolla (southeast of the country) or the one made with perilla leaf in Gyeongsang (southwest), says Song.

To make more lovers “foodies” interested in areas beyond the capital, the Government wants to create a kind of “gastronomic belt”, explains the minister, so that the visitor can have an experience connected to four key aspects of local cuisine: food fermentation, traditional recipes, seasonal specialties or the most popular dishes in the country.

Source: Gestion

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