A higher proportion of South Koreans are estimated to have enjoyed eating out over the past decade. The latest stats show that there were 660,000 restaurants opened in Korea in 2015, which translates to one eatery per 78 people across the country. The tremendous saturation of restaurants led the popularity of dining review mobile applications and blogs, which help indecisive customers to choose what to eat for the day.
Lee Young-ja (MBC)
The recent advent of a comedian’s restaurant reviews, however, have emerged as a new guide for those who are not familiar with Korea’s food scene. The reviews, dubbed “Young-ja road,” are made by the comedian Lee Young-ja, who is also well-known as a foodie with a discerning palate.
In a recent episode of MBC’s variety show “Omniscient Meddling Time,” Lee devised a special list of her favorite restaurants in Seoul. Organized by the locations or the eateries, the menu contains the name of the restaurants and the must-try plates that Lee picked from the place.
Lee`s menu (MBC)
Lee’s exceptional talent of describing each dish, such as “If you drink that noodle soup, deeply infused from the large anchovies caught from the south, you’ll feel so refreshed,” were often detailed enough to increase viewer’s appetite.
Right after the broadcast of the show, Lee’s name swept the local search engines’ trending bars instantly, drawing massive attention from the curious viewers. The names of the restaurants were blurred on the show, but some inquisitive people have completed the puzzle by finding the eateries’ names and shared them via online. They even made a google map named “List of Young-ja’s favorite restaurants,” which garnered over 180,000 views at last count.
Memes of Lee Young-ja’s face, when she describes the tastes of her favorite foods, have been actively circulated on Korea’s social media. (MBC)
Besides the local restaurants, Lee’s recommendations on the best dishes in highway service areas also attracted a great deal of attention. From a skewer of sausage and rice cake from Anseong service area to a bowl of beef and rice soup at Seoul service area, Lee nominated the top 10 dishes from the highway rest areas nationwide.
According to local media reports, the sales of the dishes skyrocketed over 200 percent after Lee mentioned them on the recent episode of the show. Lee said she received a call with appreciation from Korea Expressway Corp. as her recommendations led to dramatic increases in the sales.
If you haven’t decided what to eat tonight, why not try something from Youngja’s list.
By Park Ju-young (email@example.com