April 07, 2009 09:41
There are 19 five-star hotels in downtown Seoul, but only four have a restaurant specializing in Korean traditional cuisine -- Lotte Hotel in Sogong-dong, Mayfield, Renaissance Seoul and Sheraton Walkerhill.
Most of the five-star hotels did have Korean restaurants in the beginning, but many closed down in 2004. "It costs much more to buy the ingredients needed for cooking Korean food than food of other countries. It also requires more preparation time, and not many people come to hotel restaurants to eat Korean food," said an employee from a hotel in downtown Seoul.
While the number of Korean restaurants in luxury hotels shrank, restaurants specializing in foreign food made inroads into the five-star hotels. A Japanese restaurant replaced the Korean restaurant in Hotel Shilla, and an Italian restaurant did the same in the Millennium Seoul Hilton.
"One of the best ways to introduce Korean food to foreigners is to have Korean restaurants in five-star hotels. We tried to provide assistance to hotels that keep Korean restaurants, but had our budget cut every time because we were told not to support rich hotels," said an official at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
To cope with the near extinction of Korean restaurants in five-star hotels, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Monday a plan to popularize Korean food abroad. According to the scheme, five-star hotels with a Korean restaurant will be given funds as well as PR assistance from the government.
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