The pop music tycoon Park Jin-young has opened a Korean restaurant named Kristalbelli in Manhattan, New York. At a press conference in New York, Park said, "I think the image of Korean food is as important as its popularity. To give foreigners the impression that Korean food is fine cuisine, we need to target trend-setters."
Located on 36th Street near Korea Town, the 600 sq. m restaurant is as luxuriously decorated as any fancy bar.
The pièce de résistance is convex mirror-shaped crystal grill developed by Park himself. Park said people in his management agency JYP Entertainment opposed the plan, warning him against stepping into a field he is not familiar with, "so I made drawings for the grill myself. I invested W30 million (US$1=W1,135) of my own money, and had them broil meat on the grill and eat it. Then they agreed to the plan."
He said meat cooks faster on crystal grills than on metal ones and is cooked through because of far-infrared radiation. Although it is a barbecue restaurant, the smell of meat doesn't get into clothes because the smoke is sucked in under the grills.
Park said he decided to open a restaurant because he found there were not many Korean restaurants overseas where he could take people. "I've met a lot of people in showbusiness overseas, and they often asked me to recommend a Korean restaurant, saying that they heard Korean food is good, but I couldn't think of any I would confidently recommend," he said.
He plans to open branches of Kristalbelli in Los Angeles, Beijing and Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul, choosing cities where Korean pop culture enjoys great popularity. Park learned how to broil meat, going around the country, and has written a manual to teach restaurant staff.