Single-packaging System…Food Supplied to Franchises Is 80 Percent Pre-cooked
In Korean snack bars, typical foods include gimbap (seaweed rolls with rice and various fillings), tteokbokki (spicy stir fried rice cake), ramyeon (Korean-style instant noodles), and pork cutlets. The word used for a snack in Korean, bunsik, originally referred to a flour-based food. But over time it came to designate many different kinds of dishes cooked and served at snack bars, including pork cutlets and deopbap (rice with various toppings). The dishes there are usually reasonably priced and Korean men and women of all ages frequent those places.
Amid the huge popularity of Korean pop culture known as Hallyu (Korean culture wave), numerous Korean dishes are being introduced to other countries. Foreigners are now exhibiting a growing interest in bunsik, which are some of the most affordable and easily available dishes. For example, Korean restaurants in China and other countries never fail to add to their menus a number of bunsik options, such as gimbap and tteokbokki. In an effort to capitalize on this trend, several Korean bunsik franchise companies are making inroads into foreign markets.
A Place Offering Eight Cuisines, Including Bunsik, Traditional Korean Cuisine, and Western Food
YUMSEM, a Korean franchise brand, serves bunsik as the main cuisine on the menu. Since opening its first store in 2001, the company has enjoyed steady growth and currently has about 100 franchisees in Korea alone.
Behind this success is the effort to differentiate the company from other bunsik-serving eateries. YUMSEM not only serves an assortment of bunsik dishes, but also appeals to consumers with seven other cuisines. The traditional Korean food category, for example, includes bibimbap (rice mixed with assorted vegetables and beef), kimch-jjigae (kimchi stew), and doenjang-jjigae (soy bean paste stew). In the western food category, one can find pork cutlets and hamburger steak.
Ms. Choi Seung-jee, a manager of the business support team at YUMSEM, explains that the company’s name means “a surge of yummy dishes.” She introduces YUMSEM as a franchise company serving various dishes that you’ll never get fed up with, even if you eat at YUMSEM every day.
Production Factories Equipped with Automated, Up-to-Date Facilities
In one place, YUMSEM offers its customers as many as 80 options. These options can otherwise only be enjoyed separately in restaurants specializing in those dishes―a Korean traditional food restaurant, snack bar, pork cutlet restaurant, steak restaurant, Italian restaurant, noodle restaurant, and so on. To make such a wide range of dishes available, YUMSEM employs a unique system.
The company operates a production factory equipped with automated, up-to-date facilities certified with ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 9001 and ISO 14001. There, it produces all the ingredients including simple sauces. During the cooking process, the company follows the recipes created by experts in each type of food and uses only carefully selected ingredients. What’s more, each dish is individually packaged in a pre-cooked condition (usually, about 80 percent of the cooking is complete) and delivered to franchisees in a hygienic and safe way. Thus, the taste and quality of the dishes served in YUMSEM restaurants nationwide are the same and controlled by a single team of cooks. Ms. Choi emphasized, “All a franchisee has to do is add fresh ingredients such as vegetables and complete cooking the dish. In this way, even a complicated dish can be prepared easily.”
Most Popular: Gimbap, Pork Cutlets, and Jjigae
Among the 80 dishes on the menu, the most popular ones are gimbap and pork cutlets (which are classic bunsik dishes) as well as various jjigae (stew) dishes.
For hygiene and nutrition considerations, YUMSEM makes gimbap using only a limited amount of processed ingredients (such as pickled radish) and a greater amount of fresh vegetables, such as burdock, cucumber, and carrot. About a dozen kinds of gimbap are offered. Among them, the basic gimbap (with various vegetables, egg, and ham), pork cutlet gimbap (with vegetables and pork cutlet), and jeyukssam-gimbap (filled with stir-fried pork mixed with gochujang (red pepper paste)), enjoy the biggest popularity.
To make pork cutlets, YUMSEM uses refrigerated pork, so the crust is crispy while the inner meat remains soft. Jjigae dishes such as kimchi-jjigae and doenjang-jjigae, along with bibimbap, also receive a favorable response from customers. Ms. Choi explains that the company has secured a pool of experts and they make efforts to improve the menu and develop new entries on a regular basis. Every two years, the menu is completely overhauled.
Preparing for Entry into Overseas Markets Including China
Based on its stable growth in Korea, accumulated experience, and professionalism of the manpower resources; YUMSEM is trying to expand its business to overseas markets. China has been selected as the first target because consumers there exhibit a great interest in Hallyu and the Korean cuisine is highly recognized there. To pioneer the Chinese market, this year alone YUMSEM has participated three times in food and food service related exhibitions held in China.
The company plans to also use the single-packaging system in China, so local consumers can enjoy the dishes of the same taste and quality as those in Korea. In addition, YUMSEM is considering modifying the taste of certain dishes on the menu in order to appeal to the local consumers, although the choice of the dishes won’t be affected.
Ms. Choi says, “At the three exhibitions we participated in this year, many Chinese companies showed interest. We expect that by the end of 2015, we’ll set up YUMSEM restaurants in three regions including Fujian Sheng.” She added, “YUMSEM will participate in exhibitions and make other efforts to break into the Chinese market and open franchise stores throughout the country.”
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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