No matter what city you are in, there is a pretty good chance you have a Starbucks in walking distance from you. In fact, there might even be half a dozen of them. McDonald’s is a globally recognized and enjoyed fast food experience. If you are traveling in a metropolitan area and looking for a quick fix in terms of pasta, pizza or even Chinese food, you can usually have your needs met. Lately, though, we have been following the progression of Korean cuisine into mainstream society all across the globe. No longer are Korean restaurants few and far between, or geared only towards a Korean demographic. They are sought after dining destinations for people of all cultures.
What has led to the worldwide phenomenon of growing popularity of Korean cuisine? Well, one factor is the awareness of it. At one time, Korean restaurants were created by and for Koreans, rather than trying to draw in other guests. This was different from other Asian cuisines, where there were signature dishes to appease those who are not familiar with the food – think egg rolls, pad Thai, fried rice or sweet and sour chicken. It seemed that Korean cuisine was slower to catch on, perhaps because it did not have its own contribution to those claim to fame type of dishes that got everyone raving about the particular type of food.
However, lately, more awareness for Korean food has been generated in approachable ways. Chefs like Roy Choi and Phil Lee paved the way for fusing Korean BBQ with other more widely accepted cuisines. Kimchi and bulgogi were suddenly appearing on tortillas as street tacos. The crossover provided familiarity that allowed for people to venture into the world of Korean food. Once that awareness spread for Korean BBQ, diners realized that it was an entire experience, drawing them in to Korean restaurants. From here, the delicious food spoke for itself, evidenced by the growing momentum for Korean cuisine.
There are many other attractive features of Korean cuisine that have resulted in its worldwide popularity. A mark of any Koreatown you visit is that it consists of all-night experiences, meaning those seeking late night food can always find it in K-Town. With social media and apps such as Instagram and Yelp paving the way for everyday people to become food critics and photographers, people are seeking more exciting and unique dining experiences. With the gorgeous presentation for dishes like 비빔냉면 (bibim naengmyun), or the unique aspect of grilling your own meat at a restaurant, Korean food creates a draw that satisfies those looking to contribute to hashtag movements such as #foodporn or #eatingfortheinsta.
Further, people everywhere are increasingly abiding by alternative diets. The Paleo craze is suited to diners who ingest large quantities of meat, which is definitely provided in Korean restaurants. For those who eat gluten free, dairy free or sugar free, these ingredients are less present in Korean food than many other types of cuisine. Vegetarians delight in the flavor and excitement of traditional tofu dishes. Overall, it is an agreeable meal for those with all different dining habits.
What has been your experience with Korean cuisine? Have you dined in Korean restaurants all across the globe? Or, are you new to the culture and curious in trying it out? No matter what the case, we invite you with open arms to come dine with us at Ombu Grill.