Korean Food Tops in Popularity in China
By Kim Hyun-cheol
A recent report said Korean food, or "hansik," is the most popular foreign cuisine in China, but remains at a low level of popularity in the United States.
Korean food came out ahead of Japanese and Italian cuisines in China to top the list, according to a report by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries based on surveys on food conducted in four countries.
Hansik came in third in Japan, trailing Italian and Chinese food, and second in Vietnam to Chinese food. However, its rank was much lower in the United States, where it ranked eighth out of 11 cuisines.
The survey aimed to improve the campaign to globalize hansik, and marked the first government investigation into the condition of overseas Korean restaurants.
Most U.S. respondents named lack of localizing efforts as the reason for less preference for Korean food, with 41.3 percent affirming it.
Distrust in the hygiene of Korean restaurants there and high prices were also factors.
The survey showed that the restaurants are still mostly visited by customers of Korean descent. Of the Korean restaurants in the United States, 61 percent said Koreans account for more than half of their customers, and the figure was higher in Vietnam, at 81 percent.
In addition, 48 percent of the U.S.-based and 70 percent of Chinese-based restaurants were barbecue places, showing the need for diversified menus at Korean eateries abroad.
Meanwhile, a private institute Tuesday released a list of Korean dishes favored by Americans after conducting surveys in Los Angeles and New York.
The research showed New Yorkers preferred sweet pumpkin porridge and residents of Los Angeles favored sweet potato porridge, the Institute of Traditional Korean Food said, referring to its list of 40 popular hansik dishes in the United States. It held a presentation featuring selected foods on the same day.
Conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the study is part of a project to develop Korean food suitable to tastes in overseas countries.
People in different places have different preferences, the institute said. In New York, dishes that put a new spin on ingredients earned more votes.
Salads with bean curd and ginseng and dishes using various types of kimchi were popular, as were sweet desserts including sweet pumpkin porridge, or "hobakjuk."
In contrast, spicy dishes were favored in Los Angeles. Seafood dishes ― such as spring onion pancake with seafood, or "haemulpajeon" ― also earned high ratings.