Since 2008, organizations that follow American food trends have been predicting the rise of Korean food in America. It slowly has been getting a foothold with dedicated foodies. In 2010, it showed signs of going mainstream. Now most all the major publications and soothsayers predict that 2011 will be the year for Korean food. It already is happening in the media.
We are only in January, and the number of articles about Korean food have exploded. Plate Magazine, a publication for chefs and restaurant professionals, is dedicating its entire January/February issue to Korean food. The Toronto Star recently dedicated its entire food section to Korean restaurants and recipes. Diner’s Journal, the food blog of The New York Times, gets excited any time a Korean chef opens a new restaurant or food truck.
It’s funny how Korean food finally found its way into American culture. The government efforts possibly had some effect. Yet the greatest catalyst these past two years has been from the grassroots inside America itself. Interestingly, the down economy also helped. Chef Roy Choi opened the Kogi taco truck in 2008 in Los Angeles, which already had a thriving food truck culture, especially with tacos.
The idea to put Korean meat and kimchi in a Mexican tortilla was well-known to Koreans in California, who did it regularly at home. When the American economy plummeted, people stopped going to expensive restaurants and searched for exciting but inexpensive alternatives. The food trucks were there waiting, and Kogi became the star.
Because of Kogi’s success, other Korean taco trucks popped up in Los Angeles, then other places in California, then New York, then Houston, then Atlanta. Now we hear of Korean taco restaurants opening in Virginia suburbs and spreading quickly through middle America.
In New York City, Chef David Chang was a young man whose small restaurant Momofuku was unknown except to chefs. His was a place that chefs went to after closing their own kitchens. His food was unique but inexpensive and catered to the late night drinking crowd. These places come and go all the time, but he was the one who was popular with chefs when the economy tanked, and diners and journalists looking for interesting but inexpensive foods make Chang a star, and with it his modern style of Korean cuisine.
In the next year, expect to see more buzz about Korean food overseas. Also expect to see more foreign faces in Korea coming here to experience the wonderful food Korea has to offer. This is an exciting time in the Korean food industry and a proud moment. Let’s make sure that it becomes a lifestyle in America and not just a passing fad.
By Joe McPherson
Writer and editor of Zen Kimchi
[Source : Korea.net]