S'pore chef Justin Quek's JustIN Flavours of Asia opens in Seoul
Singaporeans craving food from home when in Seoul will have a place to go to.
Home-grown celebrity chef Justin Quek’s JustIN Flavours of Asia eatery, which used to be at Marina Bay Sands but closed this year, reopened in Lotte Department Main Store in Seoul on Dec 3.
The casual 52-seater eatery is located at the department store’s basement foodcourt and features a menu with iconic Singapore dishes such as laksa, satay, nasi goreng and fish curry.
In a nod to Quek’s culinary experience in Bangkok, the menu also includes familiar Thai favourites such as basil minced pork and green curry with beef.
The eatery is a joint venture between Quek and Korean food-and-beverage accelerator company SPBT, a partner of Lotte Department Store in seeking out suitable F&B tenants for its outlets across South Korea.
Quek, 61, said: “Six or seven years ago, it would have been difficult. But with so many Koreans travelling to Singapore these days, they are more familiar with our food now. It helps that my wife is Korean, so together, we came up with a menu that we are confident will suit the Korean palate.”
Sunny, 40, will stay until next spring to ensure restaurant operations go smoothly. Quek himself plans to fly to Seoul every two months for quality control.
HE is confident about keeping the tastes of the dishes authentic, as the kitchen will use the various pastes produced by his company in Singapore.
Certain ingredients such as jasmine rice and chilli padi are either hard to obtain or very expensive in Seoul, but the chef has devised ways to get around it.
“When we use the local rice for nasi goreng, we wash it multiple times to get rid of the gluten, and then cook it with less water.”
In place of chilli padi, he will use Korean gochugaru, or chilli pepper powder, which he says imparts the same kick when added to prawn noodle soup.
He hopes to target the corporate crowd with a Singaporean spin on the Korean “hoesik” culture of after-work dinner and drinks among colleagues. “I call it the Merlion Happy Hour, where office workers can come and enjoy my food along with free-flow beer for two hours.”
Quek also sees great potential in introducing fried pork lard to the Korean palate, something he says the Koreans have been missing out on. “I want them to experience the joy of popping crunchy pork lard washed down with beer. It is so good, they won’t be able to stop.”