Korean food missing in Dubai
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is a gigantic show window obsessed with the biggest, the highest and the first, and visitors are overwhelmed by the artificial structures built by man. You have to bend your head back to see the top of the 829-meter (2,720-foot) Burj Khalifa, which connects to the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall at the size of 80 soccer fields combined.
Built on the desert where the temperature goes over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer and hovers around 30 degrees Celsius in the middle of the winter, the Dubai Mall is the most-visited shopping destination with 80 million visitors in 2014. The Korean variety program “Grandpas Over Flowers” featured the Dubai Mall.
The mall contains more than 1,200 stores, from luxury fashion and jewelry boutiques to fast-fashion retailers like Zara and H&M, as well as variety store Daiso and Kinokuniya Bookstore. New York cupcake boutique Magnolia Bakery and many other dessert shops and restaurants can also be found in one spot.
Anything and everything that not just the residents of Dubai but also consumers from all around the world want to buy, eat and enjoy are assembled here, and people now visit Dubai for shopping alone. Dubai imports everything but has two regional specialties, which are leadership and imagination. And they are enough to turn the desert land into the most attractive destination.
Regrettably, not many Korean brands can be found in the Dubai Mall. Samsung mobile phones are the only Korean products, and it is not easy to find stores selling Korean products or even Korean restaurants.
Japanese and Chinese options are available at Japengo Club, Yo! Sushi and Sushi Counter. There is also a restaurant specializing in caviar. The only place to have Korean food is a fast food outlet in the food court.
As K-pop and Korean dramas become popular, people are increasingly interested in Korean food. But compared to Japanese and Chinese cuisine, Korean food is not so appealing yet.
Trying and enjoying foreign food is only possible when people are curious about those who make the food and find the culture attractive.
The government is working on halal food certification to diversify agricultural food product exports, and it may want to consider different strategies to make it more effective.
The author is the feature editor of the JoongAng Sunday.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 1, Page 35
by AHN HYE-RI