중앙데일리

Korean flavors spice up an old American favorite

June 06,2009
Choi Mi-kyung
A small eatery in New York’s trendy SoHo neighborhood has started a revolution of sorts. It is always packed with regulars waiting in line to order their favorite meal or adventurous diners looking for a new twist on an old taste.

New York Hotdog & Coffee, whose daily sales total around $3,500, makes half of its income from sales of hot dogs topped with kimchi and bulgogi (marinated beef), at the hefty cost of $6.99 per dog.

“New Yorkers have exotic tastes in food,” said Choi Mi-kyung, president of Steven’s Company, which operates the New York Hotdog & Coffee franchise. “That’s why I tried mixing spicy kimchi with hot dogs. And my prediction that Americans would like the taste was right,” she said, in an interview early this week at the Myeong-dong branch in central Seoul.

Choi, a Korean-American who went to live overseas in 1982, has been in the hot dog business since 2001. She opened her first hot dog shop within an Italian restaurant in New York, selling hot dogs and sausages seasoned with red pepper powder. The following year, she expanded the business by opening franchises in Korea. The eatery has since received glowing reviews on Yelp.com’s restaurant review section.

She now has a total of 189 branches, including the SoHo branch, which opened just last year, and other branches at Columbia University, in New Jersey and in Virginia. A branch will open next month in Los Angeles, with negotiations under way to open shops at Universal Studios and in Disneyland.

One of the reasons for Choi’s success is her use of traditional Korean flavors in her creations.

“I don’t use less spicy kimchi,” Choi said. Instead, she uses the same fiery side dish that Koreans eat, fries it and puts it on top of hot dogs. The bulgogi even comes adorned with a handful of chopped garlic and onions.

Choi has already set her sights on her next goal: Europe. She has already received business proposals to open franchises in Italy, Germany and England. “One of the ways to globalize Korean cuisine is to mix it and serve it with foods that are already popular, like hot dogs,” she said.



By Choi Ji-young [angie@joongang.co.kr]



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