Korea’s World Food Expo 2015: Halal, wine, and egg festivals


The annual celebration of food in Korea was held in KINTEX building in Illsan, running from 27 to 29 November. The food expo activities varied between the egg festival, which featured a wide range of egg products, “Chimk Festival” or as it’s famously known, the chicken and beer festival, one of the most beloved Korean meals, wine festival which was one of the biggest celebrations attended by a number of high-ranked figures of ministers and embassy members, giving the audience the chance to try different types of wine, and Halal Expo Korea which featured a number of Halal products and companies.


One of the most important sections was the world food section, where you could have the chance to try some of the traditional dishes of the world, prepared and presented by locals from that country. Booths from Philippines, Vietnam, China, Thailand and Japan were there. From the Philippines comes the dish that brings warmth and comfort, Arroz Caldo, which is typically a mix between chicken soup and rice porridge served with boiled eggs. The Filipino locals who presented us with warm cups of this soup said that this traditional dish is suitable for the cold weather in Korea.


While from Vietnam, a dish called Banh xeo was introduced which is, a coconut milk-flavored crepes with a wide variety of stuffing. It was served with vegetable-filled fried rolls. While China’s booth was presenting Mandu dumplings and Japan’s booth offering their umurice, a dish that combines egg omelets and fried vegetable rice.


Among the sections of the food expo was the “Halal Expo” which featured a number of Halal food products from companies in Korea and abroad as well.

We had a chance to meet a Korean partner of the Turkish delights, and we got to ask him about the Korean market for the Turkish sweets and how Koreans received it. He said that the Turkish sweets are being made to suit Koreans, since it’s originally too sweet for them; they’re focusing on adding more nuts to balance its sweetness.


Moving to Indian curry, we met with Vekas who’s working in the restaurant “Ganges” for Indian curry. He’s been living in Korea for two years, and he was really interested in introducing Indian food to Koreans, as it started it get more popular lately. He explains how his customers in Korea, whether of foreigners like him or local Koreans seem to enjoy his food. He told us, it might be because of the difference between Indian and Korean curry, as Korean curry tends to be more spicy and salty, but Indian curry has more flavors and spices to it.


We also met another worker of Turkish Delights, the Syrian Ameed, who’s been living in Korea for the past 4 years. He first came to Korea to work in a car’s repair shop, which he describes as the toughest job he had to do. Afterwards, he took a break from working to focus on studying Korean, and just recently, about four months ago, he started working in a Turkish restaurant. From his experience he says that not all Koreans love the overly sweet Turkish food, and maybe that’s why he didn’t consider trying to introduce Syrian dishes since he thinks that most or at least half of them wouldn’t appeal to the locals.


Afterwards, we attended a seminar on Halal food and certified Islamic products in Korea. The seminar started with introducing Islam and its aspects like Ramadan’s fasting, Muslim charity’s “Zakat”, Hajj and others. It appears that Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore are among the most active Muslim communities in Korea especially when it comes to producing and marketing halal products and lifestyle followed by Arabs and Turks.


It seems that there aren’t a lot of halal food options across Korea’s hotels and universities. Just recently, Hanyang University made an exception by making their cafeteria prepare halal food for its students.

Muslims are having trouble finding halal food and snacks in big markets and shops, as Korea isn’t a Muslim country, so that adds to the struggle and hardships Muslims have to overcome.


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