Vietnamese street food in Korea
Updated at Friday, 08 Sep 2017, 08:00
The Hanoitimes - Being attracted to Hanoi street food, Lee Sang Min – a Korean businessman has decided to spend the rest of his life to promote Vietnamese food in Korea.
Is this Seoul? I cannot believe it
I could not believe in my eyes when looking at the chain of restaurants “Nosang Vietnam” with the Hanoi street food style right at the heart of Seoul. A space overwhelmed with the smell of Vietnamese food from Pho, broken rice, crispy spring rolls, grilled baguette, rice porridge, and fried rice with beef. Moreover, customers can also enjoy famous drinks of Vietnam such as Hanoi beer or New rice vodka.
Furniture in the restaurant are hand picked from Vietnam by Lee Sang Min, such as plastic chairs, conical hat, or glass beer mug. All of this has made me proud when looking at things only available in Vietnam, and for once have I forgotten, that here is Hanoi instead of Seoul.
Lee Sang Min learnt how to cook Pho in Hanoi.
Yang, a friend of mine currently living in Vietnam said, restaurants in Korea are acknowledged as representative of a culture, and not simply a place to eat food. Korean goes around the world to explore new kinds of food from the early, but it is still new to Korean when talking about Vietnamese food, and Lee Sang Min is the one exploring this “myth”.
"The king" of Vietnamese food
“Nosang” means street. This is his attraction every time he goes to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city. “Here, I feel so comfortable and can wear informal clothes to join the crowd. I see myself do whatever I like from eating, laughing without afraid of being judged by others” – Lee said.
Lee was born in 1978 in Seoul. He was a director at a company exporting printing machine in the Asia market, so he has chance to visit Vietnam few times each year. He said himself being addicted to street foods and like to travel to Hanoi to satisfy his food addict. For many years, he has been to every corner of Hanoi to learn the way people cook their food. Lee said: ”only there you can find the essence of the food. As profit is generated from the food quality, and people will come to where they find the great food, without being affected by advertisement or promotion”.
One of the Noosang Vietnam restaurant in Seoul.
In business, it is unwise to bring the same food of this country to make profit in other country. In order for Korean to accept Vietnamese food, Lee Sang Min has adjusted the food through different spices. He turns the beef Pho of Hanoi into a special spicy Vietnamese Pho, in turn creating a hot trend in young customers.
Despite working only for over a year, the first restaurant of the Nosang Vietnam chain at Ga Yang district (Seoul) established by Lee Sang Min has been generating stable income of approximately 4,000 USD per day (about 90 million VND). The price of Vietnamese dishes in Korea is not cheap. A bowl of Pho is set at 4,900 won (98,000 VND); spicy pho is 7,900 won, fried rice is 6,900 won per dish and spring rolls are 3,900 won per dish (three rolls).
In addition to the unique flavor, Vietnamese beer and rice wine have attracted the Korean youth. Yang shared that Korean beer has a low alcohol percentage and is mixed with a lot of water. Therefore, the taste is rather light and people cannot easily get drunk. On the other hand, the taste of Hanoi’s beer is deep, with a sharp wheat aroma, which nobody can decline or dissatisfy. Wine is the same case.”
The Nosang Vietnam restaurant chain in Korea is one of the most developed brands in recent years. 17 restaurants have been established in the chain under a franchise. Besides, 3 other restaurants are going to operate to serve citizens.
Potential of Vietnamese food
Lee Sang Min, owner of Noosang Vietnam restaurants.
Thanks to people such as Lee Sang Min, many Vietnamese products have reached out to the world. For example, Acecook pho, Vedan MSG, Phu Quoc fish sauce… have earned many achievements.
“I want to advertise delicious food and warm atmosphere of Vietnam to Korea, therefore I founded a Vietnamese restaurant,” Mr. Lee Sang Min, CEO of Nosang restaurant in Vietnam shared. The number of “Nosang Vietnam” restaurants are increasing rapidly (currently, there are 20 restaurants). And we hope that in the future, “Noh Sang Vietnam restaurant will have enough advantages to be applied to other restaurants in Vietnam.”
“Thanks to Vietnamese restaurants in Korea, Vietnam has been approved as a rich agricultural country with many delicious dishes and good ingredients. Vietnam is no longer just a war-torn county,” Mr. Lee affirmed.
Because of the 25th year anniversary of international relation between Vietnam and Korea, many Korean companies are investing in Vietnam. Indeed, the number of tourists is increasing each year. According to statistics, currently, there are about 150,000 Korean people in Vietnam. If include tourists, the number can reach up to 500,000 people. The closeness and importance of the two countries are becoming more and more important. This is a very good opportunity to advertise the product right in Korea.
Nguyen Tung - Ho Ha