Korean joins fast food lane

Korean joins fast food lane

Dak Galbi and Kudsan cafes offer quick bites

Ms Kanokorn, left, and Ms Preeyawan, right, announce a collaboration to provide freshly cooked Korean dishes at Kudson cafes, on the second floor of some 7-Eleven stores across the country.
Ms Kanokorn, left, and Ms Preeyawan, right, announce a collaboration to provide freshly cooked Korean dishes at Kudson cafes, on the second floor of some 7-Eleven stores across the country.

Korean food is perceived as premium in Thailand. Thais rarely order it for take-out, mostly dining in at restaurant chains in retail complexes, hotels or Korea Town on Sukhumvit Road.

Korean restaurants have been operating in Thailand for more than two decades, but only surged in popularity after the South Korean historical drama Dae Jang Geum aired locally in 2005, telling the tale of an orphaned cook who becomes the king's first female physician.

Since then, Korean cosmetics, K-pop, electrical goods, instant noodles, K-series and Korean food have gained popularity in Thailand.

Popular Korean food brands in Thailand include Bon Chon under Minor Food Group, Red Sun under Food Passion, and Dak Galbi under Charoen Pokphand Foods, the flagship company of agribusiness giant Charoen Pokphand Group.

In 2020, the market value of Korean food was estimated to be 2 billion baht, with average growth of 4-5% per year.

"We believe the Korean trend will last for a long time in Thailand, with the cuisine likely to become a mainstream local food over the next five years," said Preeyawan Tantasuralerk, senior vice-president at Dak Galbi Group.

In a move to raise Korean fare's profile among Thai consumers, Dak Galbi partnered with Kudsan, a lifestyle cafe under CP All Plc, the operator of 7-Eleven stores, to develop and provide four Dak Galbi Korean freshly cooked dishes at 555 Kudsan lifestyle cafes, which are located on the second floor of certain branches of 7-Eleven stores across the country.

This collaboration started on April 4.

Popular dishes include Tteokbokki (hot and spicy rice cake), Korean fried chicken wings and Korean fried chicken with rice, priced between 89 and 129 baht.

"Demand for freshly cooked dishes has continuously increased, driven by the Covid-19 outbreaks, which caused Thais to become more hygienic and concerned about their health," said Ms Preeyawan.

"Five K-pop drama series are among the top 10 titles on Netflix, helping to promote Korean eating culture. The spicy taste of Korean food also appeals to the appetite of Thais."

She said the company plans to add four new Korean dishes at Kudsan cafes in June.

Dak Galbi wants to increase the number of Kudsan cafes that offer its dishes to 1,200 branches by the end of this year and 2,000 branches next year, up from 555, said Ms Preeyawan.

Kanokorn Thipayapornkul, head of Kudsan and Belline's Premium Cafe under CP All, said providing Kudsan Korean dishes by Dak Galbi will differentiate its stores from rivals and lure more B-level customer groups.

Customers can also order Kudsan Korean dishes via the 7-Eleven delivery app, she said.

According to Ms Kanokorn, there are 5,000 Kudsan cafes across the country, with the number projected to increase to 6,700 by the end of this year.

Ms Preeyawan said the company plans to spend 100 million baht to open 10 Galbi X outlets, its Korean street food brand, in Bangkok this year, bringing the total to 13 branches by year-end.

The company also wants to open Dak Galbi Korean food restaurants in the third and fourth quarters at The Mall department stores and Central shopping complexes, she said.

As part of its plan, Dak Galbi expects sales to increase to 500 million baht, up from about 200 million last year.

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