Hampton Court Foodie Festival May 2012
Last bank holiday weekend we trekked over to the beautiful Hampton Court Palace for the Foodie Festival, courtesy of the always generous Han restaurant and Karaoke Bar. We got there early and managed to be at the front of the huge queues! We weren’t expecting such a huge turn out so early on in the day. It was almost as crazy as a European Kpop concert!
Han had a stall at a prime location on the main strip of the festival and flew the South Korean flag high with pride. Mr Han (we don’t think that’s his real name, but think it suits him quite well) was a very warm and friendly man, chatting to passer-bys and handing out business cards. Mr. Han’s friendly approach really helped bring attention as Korean food isn’t as well known to the general public here as other types of ethnic foods. The Han stall had a marquee (which was very useful when the rain hit), a barbeque and a GIANT frying pan. The smell it generated was mouth-watering and drew in all the hungry foodies. Situated next to Jamie’s Italian stall, their freshly baked ciabatta bread was no match for Han’s beautifully cooked bulgogi and deliciously crispy Panjeon.
As well as the food being barbecued and fried on site, the Han stall also had Korean signature dishes such as Japchae, Haemul Pajeon and of course Kimchi! As we sat away from the pouring rain filling our stomachs with warming pajeons. We also had some very interesting drinks to try: Green Tea Soya Milk, which gets a double thumbs up from a Soya Milk enthusiast, and a very sweet cinnamony ice tea, with the fabulous name Nostalgia drink Soojeonggwa. Like the amazing restaurant that houses our free fortnightly UKFC Korean Friendship nights, the food was delicious and the atmosphere was warm, even though we were actually sat in a marquee out in the British Bank holiday rain.
The Foodie Festival had a lot of different cuisine to offer although we noticed a distinct lack of the usual East Asian cuisines that the British public was used to, such as Chinese and Japanese foods. We walked around a good few times but did not see a single sushi! But this gap in the market means that it’s the perfect time for South Korea to shine and join the other big leagues of East Asian cuisine. London has Chinatown and Sushi shops everywhere and with Tottenham court road slowly becoming London’s worst kept Korean food hot spot secret, Korean cuisine is definitely on the rise.
Another Korean Stall at the Foodie Festival was owned by Kob Kob sauce, the Korean BBQ sauce. Sean Kwon the Founder says he’s here to make you happy and gave out tasters to the British public asking their opinion if the sauce would be popular in the UK. Korea is a BBQ nation and as the Sweet and Sour represents Chinese cuisine, Sean is trying to create a signature taste for people to relate to Korean cuisine in the UK. They had Kob Kob chicken in hot dogs or with rice, the sauce was like a super kicky BBQ sauce. We can definitely see it in UK supermarket aisles!
The Foodie Festival was really fun but we can’t help but think that the Korean stalls could have done a lot more to generate interest in Korean cuisine. There were a good few signature Korean dishes that were missing such as the easy to eat and take away kimbab and tteokbokki, which would have been perfect for the rainy festival weather (hold on, epic music festival business idea anyone?!), and the lack of tasters was also a bit of a fail as that was what got people to make purchases. Tasters would have been even more important for a Korean stand as much of the public isn’t aware of what Korean cuisine consists of, so tasters are a good way to introduce people to the food and generate a buzz. A small piece of freshly made crispy pajeon would have been enough to have people flocking to buy the rest of the pancake! We ourselves know the importance of tasters, as we walk away with bags of crisps, chocolate and a giant cake after countless taste samples. We also can’t help but think that maybe blasting some Kpop could have helped draw some extra much needed attention…
Exclusively written for London Korean Times by KCMASSIVE
Photo credits to KCMASSIVE Sarah Yates and London Korean Times Jackie Tatham