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A world of flavor to nurture both body and soul

Chef ’s Special

Aug 06,2009
Ok Hyung-man, Executive Chef Paradise Hotel Busan
Chefs are explorers, constantly delving into new worlds of taste and texture, says Ok Hyung-man, executive chef of the Paradise Hotel Busan. It is this adventurous philosophy that has led him to his present career.

“I want to bring all the world’s flavors together to cook the most flavorful food,” Ok said, noting that it is a chef’s responsibility to create new tastes.

Ok, 47, began working for a local hotel after graduating from high school in 1981. Back then, his dream was to open his own restaurant in 10 years time.

As he learned more about the culinary arts through his work at the hotel’s French and Italian restaurants, however, he felt a need to share his culinary knowledge with the next generation of chefs.

Temple food at Baru, in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang. [JoongAng Ilbo]
His desire to educate others grew when he began work at the Paradise Hotel Busan in 1987. Eventually, he came to believe that opening a restaurant would deprive him of the opportunity to nurture up-and-coming chefs, because teaching others teaches him in return, he said.

Speaking about his personal preferences, Ok said he believes that a meal served with healthy ingredients can change the way you eat. And for him, there is no better place to eat than Baru, a restaurant specializing in temple food in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang. The restaurant serves nutritious and appealing meals, he said.

Baru (055-385-6688), located in a residential area near the southern port city, has both a prix fixe and a la carte menu. It is famous for its song-i dolsot bap, rice with pine mushrooms served in a stone pot (18,000 won), and its yeonnip bap, rice mixed with grains and served in a lotus leaf (18,000 won). The yeonnip bap is served with number of side dishes whose flavors, he says, are not too overwhelming for the senses.

He first discovered the restaurant last fall while driving through the area. He said he was attracted by the pungent scent of pine mushrooms in the air so he pulled over. He said he fell in love with the pine mushroom dish the moment he tasted it.

“I’ve grown tired of the barbecue and hoe [raw fish] restaurants, which can basically be found on every busy street corner in Busan,” Ok said. “Right now, I’m strongly attracted to temple food,” which he says is a reminder of just how much a good meal can do to improve your health.


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]


Ok Hyung-man began working at the Paradise Hotel Busan in 1987. He worked at the hotel’s French and Italian restaurants for 11 years before becoming the hotel’s executive chef. Ok participated in a special program at Le Treva Celle Hotel in Perugia, Italy, in 2004.



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