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- June 2012(issue 201)
Street Food Turned Dish, “School Food”
Making Premium Street Foods with Best Food Ingredients
Many Koreans have fun memories enjoying street food as kids: eating topokki (grilled spicy rice cake fingers) together with friends on the way back from school or making fun of their friends who drank eomuk (fish cake) broth too hastily and scalded the roofs of their mouths.
The Korean franchise company “School Food” has elevated street foods such as toppoki, gimbap, eomuk, sundae, and others to the ranks of healthy dishes.
School Food’s Principle : The Basis of Good Taste is Good Ingredients
School Food started as a caterer’s shop in 2002 and, in 2005, opened their first sit down store in Sinsa-dong, Seoul. Since the very beginning, the company had determined its motto of offering “premium street foods.”
Now, it’s a franchise business with 52 stores. Some people may think that the word “premium” does not go with “street food.” But what School Food has in mind is the provision of a better dining environment by using the best food ingredients and having the highest sanitation standards. The company believes that by following these principles, they can provide their customers with foods that are safe to eat. Professionally trained chefs make and serve the food. All dishes are made with the best-quality Korean rice, gochujang (red pepper paste) and pork; and the spicy sauce does not have any chemical additives in it, such as capsaicin.
To prevent bacteria breeding, School Food’s gimbap is made with grilled seasoned laver produced in Wando-gun. No matter how much it costs, School Food chefs stick to their company’s motto: for all dishes, they personally select and manage the finest domestically produced ingredients.
A Menu Full of Creative Dishes … Carbonara Topokki, Mari, and Many Others
There are also a number of other points which make School Food different from regular snack bars. A lot of dishes on the menu are creative and can be found only here: carbonara topokki (made with carbonara cream sauce), tong-ojingeo-topokki (topokki with a whole squid), nurungji-kkul-tteok-mattang (crispy rice crust, grilled rice cake, and sweet potato mixed in honey).
But the best among the unusual dishes offered at School Food is “mari.” It looks like mini gimbap, but actually it is very different in every aspect - taste, ingredients, and recipe. Generally, gimbap is made from steamed white rice and various other ingredients, rolled in gim (sheets of dried seaweed). Pushed inside the roll, the rice becomes hard like a rice cake. Unlike gimbap, the rice in mari feels very soft, which allows you to feel the harmony of all the ingredients such as spam, flying fish roe, anchovy, and bulgogi (slices of beef marinated in soy sauce). There is a secret to this softness: the chefs don’t apply force when making the rolls in order to give room for air between the ingredients. The company wanted to differentiate the dish from regular gimbap even in name, so they called it “mari” (“rolling” in Korean).
Crunchy Side Dish, “Mu-Jangajji”
Serving customers mu-jangajji (radish pickled or marinated in a sauce for a long period of time), one of the fermented Korean foods, as a side dish is yet another special feature of School Food. The entire process of making delicious mu-jangajji takes over a month starting from the time of harvesting white radish. To achieve a crunchy taste, School Food uses honey and applies a special salting method over seven times. School Food does their best to invent healthy and delicious dishes with intensive investment in the research and development of new dishes.
LA Branch Opened … Japan and Hong Kong Branches Are on the Way
Success at home compelled School Food to try its hand in the international market. The first overseas branch opened in Los Angeles, in the US, in 2009. The menu in School Food stores at home and abroad is similar but, to catch foreigners’ attention, the company tries to modify the dishes by using local food ingredients and revising recipes. Nevertheless, all sauces and mu-jangajji are brought directly from Korea to maintain the originality of School Food. Training in the cooking skills and recipes is also the same as in Korea.
Recently, the interest of Americans in Korean culture is on the rise. It is not difficult to see non-Korean customers tasting unique Korean snacks such as topokki and mari in the LA branch of School Food.
With know-how and experience obtained in the US, School Food plans to make headways into new markets in Japan and Hong Kong. As a food service company, School Food will take the lead in promoting original Korean culture to overseas consumers through Hansik.
Inquiries SCHOOL FOOD