Galvin at Windows, one of London’s premier dining establishments sitting atop the London Hilton on Park Lane, is offering a Korean-inspired menu during the month of October. For the second consecutive year, head Chef Joo Won has created a masterpiece Korean fusion menu for London’s food savvy diners. However, this time around there will be a pop-up photographic exhibition within the restaurant, under the theme “Korean Wave – A Mix of Old And New,” showcasing the work of Ramy Salameh, a regular visitor to the country over the last two decades. His images portray the delicate, ceremonial, modern and quirky side of South Korea.
Korean cuisine has been one of the headline acts of “Hallyu” – the contemporary wave of Korean culture that has been permeating the globe in recent years. The photographic exhibition tries to capture elements of this “Korean wave” and the influences it has brought to bear. Joo Won describes his menu as “a Korean menu based on French cooking methodology and technique using English and European ingredients. What makes each plate taste Korean in flavour is ‘Jang’ (which is soy fermented sauce or paste) such as Ganjang, Gochujang, Doenjang and Sesame, which regularly form the base ingredient in Korean cuisine.”
It is within the last few years that Korean cuisine has made it onto the menus of some the best and most innovative restaurants worldwide. The key to the rise in popularity is the fermentation in much of Korean food processes and the health-giving properties that this provides, coupled with the incredible smorgasbord of recipes and flavours the cuisine can produce. Won says “at Galvin at Windows, we use various ‘Jang’ to enrich the taste of the dishes produced and they work well with Western cuisine.”
Like a Kaleidoscope, “Hallyu” and Korean culture have many facets, which have been a major part in creating new global products and trends. This is most evident in the fashion and cosmetics industries of Korea. Tom Allsop, Senior Subeditor of British Airways’ High Life Magazine recently wrote that “Seoul has become an emerging force in global fashion” and went on to say that “South Korea’s secret weapon is hallyu, which roughly translates as the Korean Wave and started making ripples abroad in the early 2000s.”
Allsop also comments that “it is South Koreans’ skill at assimilating foreign culture that has helped the country sell itself abroad.” This sentence is particularly pertinent when thinking of Joo Won’s ability to use the food of his upbringing and fuse that with Western high-end dining. Won remarks, “I think Hallyu has helped spread the awareness of Korean food within the UK and now many customers are aware of some signature dishes such as Kimchi, Bibimbap and Bulgogi, but still the knowledge of the food is not very deep.” The Korean menu available at Galvin at Windows during October will provide customers with a better understanding of Korean cuisine, Hallyu and as Won says, a “different experience for our clients!”