Korean cuisine had been long neglected by five-star hotels in Seoul, but that has been changing in recent months as Seoul prepares to host the G20 Summit on Nov. 11 and 12. Until the early 2000s, major hotels did operate Korean restaurants, but the complicated cooking process, high cost of ingredients and personnel and decreasing number of guests meant they were replaced by those serving international cuisine.
But a recent boom in Korean traditional cuisine and the upcoming G20 Summit have prompted hotels to renovate or open Korean restaurants showcasing newly developed menus catering to foreign palates.
The Hotel Lotte in Sogong-dong moved its Korean restaurant, Mugunghwa, from the basement to the top 38th floor, where it reopens on Nov. 3. "The reason why we decided to invest more in Korean food is because Lotte Group vice president Shin Dong-bin loves it, and his interest in Korean cuisine grew after he was appointed as chairman of the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee. We invested over W5 billion in the interior and developing the menu," a spokesman said.
The Westin Chosun Hotel also developed a menu of over 100 Korean dishes to be presented to the leaders of the G20 countries, and staff visited the Icheon Ceramic Village in Gyeonggi Province in search of tableware that would match the food perfectly.
The Imperial Palace Hotel has created a Hanok Lounge, which recreates a traditional Korean kitchen, on the 20th floor, and plans to serve authentic royal cuisine for its VIP customers during the month of November.
A hospitality industry insider said, "Since thousands of foreign delegates and reporters as well as the leaders of the G20 countries will experience Korean cuisine, it will be an excellent opportunity to promote not only the hotels but also the culinary culture of Korea."