▲ A chef serves roasted pig on a spit during Jungmun Beach Kaokao’s media showcase on April 13. Photo by Darryl Coote
Located in the heart of the Jungmun tourism district, the newly opened government-sanctioned, authentic Chinese restaurant, Jungmun Beach Kaokao, hopes to be the answer for the Jeju tourism industry.
Since 2009 the number of Chinese nationals visiting Jeju has increased by 40 percent, and as China is becoming more affluent, this trend does not look like it will change anytime soon. According to Lee Sung Eun, MICE marketing manager for the Jeju Tourism Organization, Chinese tourists have become not only the island’s fastest growing foreign tourist demographic but also its largest.
However, Lee said their number one complaint has been that they are unsatisfied with the food Jeju restaurants have to offer, so there has been an initiative to develop authentic Chinese restaurants with Jungmun Beach Kaokao being the first to open its doors on April 1.
Christened after the beach where it is situated and the Chinese word for grill, Jungmun Beach Kaokao not only serves authentic Chinese cuisine but also has a breathtaking view of the ocean, is within walking distance of five-star hotels, comes with employees fluent in Chinese, offers Chinese décor and live music, and will even accept the yuan.
Song Jian Ping, head chef of Jungmun Beach Kaokao, said that currently their dishes are 80 to 90 percent authentically Chinese. During their media showcase on April 13 these Chinese cuisines were accompanied by croissants, sushi and other international fare that were spread out on the buffet. He continued that “So far there are a lot more Korean guests than Chinese guests, but when we have all Chinese guests I can change the taste and make it more authentic. I will adjust the taste of food to that of the guests.”
The kitchen is staffed with 12 cooks and two first-class chefs from China with Jeju government sponsored visas who are able to prepare eight regional varieties of Chinese food. The restaurant can serve up to 1,000 guests per service if reservations are made beforehand and can seat 500 guests at one time with an additional 300 on the outside patio.
The restaurant is spacious with white cloth napkins, an abundance of red color and a pig spit at the head of the buffet table. Song said that they can serve 30 different main dishes along with an array of side dishes and salads.
Owned and operated by Jungmun Marine Park, the company plans to combine the restaurant with other tourist attractions as they try to attract more deep-pocketed Chinese tourists to the island. They have already started to promote wedding packages, with the ceremony conducted by the Shangrila Yacht company who offer a cruise around the island followed by a reception at the Jungmun Beach Kaokao restaurant.
The most popular dishes, said Song, are the Chinese fried fish in sauce and the fried crab also covered in sauce, but to this amateur food critic, the slow roasted pork was wonderful. Its meat was tender and pink and with small shrimp used as a sort of dipping sauce. Though maybe overly salty for some, I had no need to eat anything else.
Prices range between 9,000 won and 18,000 won a meal with the buffet costing 39,500 won.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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