Korean Cuisine Getting Trendy at Upscale New York Eateries

      May 30, 2013 11:09

      Korean food is gaining popularity among restaurants in New York, a city known for setting culinary trends. Visitors to upscale restaurants in Manhattan now can find kimchi, bulgogi (seasoned grilled beef) and bibimbap (rice with assorted vegetables) on the menu -- dishes that used to be only available in the city's Koreatown.

      The Mercer Kitchen in SoHo, downtown Manhattan, is a magnet for hungry hipsters. Its offerings include Schaller & Weber hotdogs accompanied with kimchi and mustard sauce. Another high-end restaurant in the Big Apple, Michael's in Midtown West, recently added the Korean-style bulgogi taco to its menu.

      The Michelin star restaurant Annisa in West Village serves Korean yukhoe (steak tartare) juiced with pear, as well as grilled mackerel with gochujang (red pepper paste). Also, Gilt in the Palace Hotel is serving a variety of garnishes using kimchi.

      Hotdogs with Korean kimchi are served at the Mercer Kitchen in SoHo, downtown Mahattan.

      Baum+Whiteman, a restaurant consulting company based in New York, included Korean food in its 2012 report on food and dining trends. Kimchi, bulgogi, galbi (grilled beef ribs) and bibimbap have entered the American lexicon, the report said.

      Kimchi appears to have become a familiar word there. It used to entail some explanations, such as "Korean-style fermented Napa cabbage." But now in most cases, menus show only the word "kimchi." Bon Appetit magazine picked gochujang as one of the food trends that will take off this year.

      Online searches also testify to the growing popularity of Korean food. According to Google, the number of searches for "kimchi" soared 96.1 percent in the U.S. this year, compared to three years ago, while those for "Korean BBQ" and "bibimbap" rose 75.4 percent and 194.1 percent, respectively.

      "Korean restaurants, which are usually owned by immigrants, have served cheap, plentiful dishes for resident or visiting Koreans," said Prof. Park Jin-bae at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Now, Korean food is raising its image through localization and sophistication, he added.

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