South Korean cuisine eyes global standards, taste

Chef-Jung-Sik-YimKUALA LUMPUR: After the global popularity of South Korean films and dramas as well as the influential K-Pop music, there are efforts to turn the country’s cuisine as its latest “ambassador”.

Recognising the potential of South Korean food, chef Jung Sik Yim has taken the initiative to improve on traditional Korean dishes and named it as “New Korean Cuisine” to ensure that it meets international standards and tastes.

The 39-year-old “cuisine icon” said he learned that the traditional dish “Kimchi” (salted and fermented vegetables) had gained tremendous popularity and demand from around the world and the trend inspired him to enhance the dish.

“I also try to recreate traditional dishes such as ‘Bibimbap’ (mixed rice), ‘Gomtang’ (beef bone soup), ‘Gujeolpan’ (a platter of nine delicacies including vegetables and meat) as well as ‘Kimchi’ with improved nutrients, and yet still maintain their original taste.

“I am inspired to produce the ‘New Korean Cuisine’ by my experience working in the culinary field in the United States and in Spain,” he said via an interpreter to Bernama recently.

He said in this era, food had become a symbol of a nation and not only to be enjoyed, but also as a way of learning the culture of a particular nation.

Jung, who is the founder and owner of the Jungsik Restaurant in Seoul and another restaurant with the new Korean cuisine theme in Manhattan, New York, has received numerous awards for his efforts to bring his country’s cuisine to the world stage.

His restaurant in Seoul, which began operations in 2009, once clinched the 10th spot in the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, while his outlet in New York was awarded two Michelin stars by the Michelin Guide New York City in 2014.

Furthermore, Jung, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, has also started collaborating with Singapore Airlines since March, to prepare a special Korean menu on its flights.

Asked about his future plans, Jung said he planned to expand his business and did not rule out the possibility of opening a branch in Malaysia.