“Korean Dishes are Popular among the Chinese as Healthy Foods”
“We Will Take the Lead in Promoting
the Warmth and Healthiness of
Korean Dishes to Chinese People”
The president of Powealth Int’l Enterprise Management Co., Mr. Ye Rui Ci (葉瑞慈), is running the largest Korean cuisine franchise company in China. He is putting a lot of effort into promoting the taste of Korean food to local people. For his profound knowledge of Korean cuisine and significant contribution to promoting the excellence of Korean dishes to the Chinese, Mr. Ye received an accolade from the Minister of MAFRA (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of Korea) and was also named an honorary ambassador of Korean cuisine last December. <Korea AgraFood> met Mr. Ye to hear the story of his love for Korean dishes and about his Korean restaurant franchise Quanjincheng (權金城).
Why did you decide to open a Korean restaurant in China?
While working for a state enterprise, I went to Shenyang City on a business trip and visited a Korean restaurant. I tried bulgogi (thin slices of beef marinated in a soy sauce) and kimchi there and immediately fell in love with Korean cuisine. After that, I travelled to Korea and experienced a variety of Korean dishes. I felt that Korean dishes have great value as a wholesome food. What’s more, I thought cooking Korean dishes is easier than cooking Chinese ones. That’s how I opened the Korean restaurant Quanjincheng Bulgogi in Beijing in September of 2000.
Tell us about your franchise Quanjincheng.
The name of the Korean food franchise brand Quanjincheng comes from the name of a famous attraction in Gangwon Province of Korea: Gwongeumseong (a stone castle located in the Seorak Mountains). I wanted the name of the brand to reflect something distinctively Korean, so I thought of taking a Korean place name.
There are two franchise brands under Quanjincheng: Quanjincheng Bulgogi and Quanwei (權味) Dolsot Bibimbap. The former’s concept is a high-end restaurant franchise for local consumers in the middle to high-income bracket. The latter is a network of Korean-style fast food restaurants serving Korean dishes. The main customers of Quanwei Dolsot Bibimbap are local consumers in their 20s and 30s as well as office workers. Over 90 percent of the people who come to Quanjincheng restaurants are Chinese. The Quanjincheng Bulgogi restaurant is open to members only. It boasts some 500,000 regular customers.
How many Korean dishes does Quanjincheng offer?
When I first started the business, we had over 200 kinds of Korean dishes on the menu. But now, as we know about the preferences of customers, we serve about 130 dishes. Quanjincheng Bulgogi specializes in roasted dishes―bulgogi, samgyeopsal-gui (grilled pork belly), and so on―as well as in hanjeongsik (traditional Korean meal sets). Quanwei Dolsot Bibimbap offers Korean dishes that are enough for one person to have as a meal―dolsot-bibimbap (bibimbap in a sizzling stone pot), doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew), and so on. Bulgogi, with its sweet beef stock, and kimchi, which is a renowned healthy food, are especially popular among Chinese customers.We heard about the outstanding effort Quanjincheng is making to serve original Korean dishes.
We put the top priority on introducing Chinese people to the original Korean taste. That’s why we made it a rule to have traditional Korean sauces―doenjang (soybean paste) and gochujang (red pepper paste)―supplied from Korean food companies. When cooking Korean dishes, the traditional Korean sauce is the most important ingredient. An ethnic Korean-Chinese chef who is well familiar with Korean cuisine is the main chef in charge of the Quanjincheng restaurants. To catch up with the newest trends in Korean cuisine, I keep up an active exchange with Korean food experts. I also visit Korea more than four times every year and go to famous Korean restaurants for market research.
What is the response to Korean dishes among the Chinese?
The majority of the Chinese who visit our restaurants are well aware of the health benefits of Korean food stemming from the abundance of vegetables and few artificial seasonings.
Korean food also has a simple taste. Yet another advantage of Korean cuisine is that there are plenty of fermented foods, which are good for the health. So many Chinese people and local media consider Korean dishes “green food.” I anticipate the interest in Korean cuisine to increase steadily among the Chinese.
What’s your next goal?
In a little over 10 years, Quanjincheng has rapidly developed into the most famous brand of Korean dishes in China and one of the top three food franchises. This impressive growth shows that the Chinese people appreciate the advantages of healthy and delicious Korean dishes. We turn over USD$74 million in 100 Quanjincheng restaurants every year. The next goal is to expand further and, through active promotion of Korean cuisine, run 1000 Quanjincheng restaurants throughout China.
Inquiries Powealth Int’l Enterprise Management Co.
Park Sung Eun email@example.com
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