South Korea has at least 300 Indian restaurantsMay 18th, 2010 - 12:31 pm ICT by IANS
By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Seoul, May 18 (IANS) If you feel like tucking in some tandoori chicken or aloo gobi while traversing the lanes of the South Korean capital, walk right in to one of the many Indian restaurants that are a hit with not only tourists but also locals. North Indian cuisine, especially Punjabi dishes, is fast making inroads in South Korea, with the country boasting of at least 300 Indian restaurants, of which around 50 are in the capital city alone.
“Lots of restaurants serving Indian dishes have come up in South Korea, more so in Seoul. There are around 50 Indian restaurants in Seoul,” Shrestha Rajesh, president of Mount Fishtail that serves Indian and Nepali cuisine told IANS.
Besides stand-alone restaurants, there are also chains of Indian restaurants in South Korea. Interestingly, the restaurants are owned by enterprising Nepalis like Rajesh as well as locals - and not necessarily people of Indian origin.
“The demand is good as there are many Indians in South Korea. Also the Koreans are developing a liking for Punjabi cuisine,” Rajesh said.
He said Koreans and other international travellers prefer tandoori items like naan - the regular variety as well as flavoured with butter-garlic, roti and lassi. Other items like aloo gobi, daal and tandoori chicken also find favour.
Adds Shovan Das, Coex Intercontinental’s Chef de Partie: “The South Koreans prefer Indian dishes less spicy. For the Indian taste buds it will be bland.”
He said for Indian diners the items are made as per their request and there is a good demand for Indian chefs in South Korea.
According to him, Indian dishes are more pocket-friendly compared to Korean food and there are around 300 restaurants in South Korea serving Indian dishes.
“We require more Indian chefs to cater to the needs of not only tourists but also local Indians and Koreans. The pay packet is around $6,000 per annum,” he added.
There are an estimated 6,000 Indians in South Korea who include businessmen, software engineers, scientists, research fellows, workers and students. There are many Indian companies in South Korea like Tata Motors, L&T Infotech, Mahindra Satyam, Indian Overseas Bank, Tata Consultancy Services, Jindal Stainless Steel, Nucleus Software Solutions and Wipro Technologies. And their employees often make for eager customers for the Indian restaurants.
According to the Indian embassy in South Korea, the number of Indian students in Korean universities, mostly in scientific fields, is on the rise.
Rajesh said business prospects were good and he is planning to set up more restaurants in the city. “The investment is quite high. One needs around 100 million Korean wons (around $86,950) to set up a restaurant,” he added.
Chef Alex of the Ashoka chain of restaurants predicts a busy season ahead. “The Indian cuisine business will be good during winter,” he said.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)
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Tags: chef de partie, coex intercontinental, indian chefs, indian dishes, indian origin, indian restaurants, indian taste, international travellers, jagannathan, korean food, mount fishtail, nepali cuisine, nepalis, north indian cuisine, pay packet, punjabi cuisine, south korean capital, south koreans, tandoori chicken, taste buds