Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Korean Brands: Making it in New York

The summer before I moved to Korea (back in 2008), my mom discovered Eryn Brinie, a Korean designer who got a paragraph mention in Lucky Magazine when her new store opened in New York. We got excited, as silly as it seemed, that a Korean brand was in New York. Aside from the Korea Town barbecue places and their section in the local Asian markets, we didn't know of anything else 'Korean' that was available in New York.

Ever since I started heading to the ubiquitous chicken hofs for wings and beer, I've said they need to have hofs in the US. There is nothing quite like a restaurant that serves nothing but different varieties of fried chicken, beer and soju. So imagine how I felt reading this in the Korea Times today:
The popular Korean wing franchise [Kyochon], which opened its modern $2-million, two-story space, already has several restaurants in New York and California. But the latest addition is located right smack in the center of Manhattan, a positioning aimed at targeting more American customers.
 Apparently, Korean CEOs are shifting their marketing strategy from targeting Korea Town areas to more diverse setting. Truthfully, starting that plan in places like New York and Los Angeles is a smart move. Foreign is chic and/or trendy when going out to dinner there. Granted, a chicken hof is never going to be chic but it certainly has novelty appeal.

I hope Skin Food** branches from their face masks in the US (and selling only at Walmart, where I refuse to shop). I've become addicted to their ridiculous (and cheap) nail polish colors. Currently my nails are a lovely bright purple. Hey, I'm an elementary school teacher. Bright colors are not only allowed, my students love them.  Or are seriously amused and either way it gets them to speak to me about something in English so I don't really care what their reason for doing it is. One of my favorite things about Korea is how many cheap makeup brands are available. In the states, cheap makeup tends to only be available in drug stores where there aren't tester bottles open so you can check colors, texture, etc. Cheap isn't cheap if you hate the color when you take it home and never use it.

The Korea Times also quoted a consultant about trying to make sure Korea doesn't brand itself as cheap and appealing to more upmarket clients/products. I think that capitalizing on how zany and funky Korea can be would be fabulous for its commercial image.

I will admit, I'm highly amused that this is the opening line from the KT article:  "Every time Tina Shin digs into a plate full of spicy, double-fried chicken wings from Kyochon, she craves some chilled Cass, a Korean beer. But she can't readily order it off the menu." I love Korean food and alcohol but cheap Korean beer is even worse than cheap American beer. The oh so creative expat nickname for Cass is 'Ass.' To each their own I suppose. 



**Skin food actually has a decent English language website for women in Korea who want more details on their products than the limited English on the packaging gives.
***Shouldn't I be busy like I said I would be instead of updating my blog? Theoretically, yes. Only, I'm working on my taxes and I have a question only my Dad can answer so now I have to wait until it's a reasonable hour in New York to continue being productive. ~pokes the blogosphere for wonderful time killing entertainment~

13 comments:

Mike Juneyoung said...

tried kyochon in the city, but it wasn't exactly like the ones i used to in Korea. there were a few places like kyochon but didn't try them.

Alex said...

Sad! I bet they didn't serve random radish and cabbage side dishes either. Then again, I wouldn't exactly miss that. Only type of Korean restaurant that really fails at the side dishes is the chicken hof.

Melissa said...

I was in the city last weekend and took a stroll down Korea Alley...they have a Face Shop there!!!! I was such a sucker for Face Shop eyeliner in Korea, so it made my day to know I could also get it here. I think I also saw the chicken hof you mentioned. (Wasn't much into those places when I lived in Seoul.) Come back so we can play in NYC!

Alex said...

OMG YAY! The article in the Korea Times only mentioned the face mask sheet thingy available at Walmart and didn't say anything about other products. FaceShop ROCKS. So does skinfood...and innis free...and all of the other kookie cheap brands.

Josh said...

hmmmm "Ass" beer doesn't sound like something anyone would actually miss!!

Alex said...

It really isn't. However, I will admit that it tastes better than the gluten free crap you and dad are forced to drink. Then again....after years of NO beer I imagine it tastes fabulous to you.

Christian said...

Craving Cass must be a euphemism for something.

Simon said...

Speaking of Korean stuff, we now have a Korean taco truck in Durham - http://carpedurham.com/2010/03/24/bulkogi-korean-taco-truck/. Haven't eaten there yet though, still need to find out if their soy sauce has wheat (probably).

So far, I think the best gluten free beer like substance is a bourbon and soda, followed by cider.

Alex said...

that is...incredibly strange and tasty sounding. and yes, korean soy sauce has wheat in it.

i can't get korean tacos in korea. but theoretically, i could make them myself as i have access to both kimchi and taco shells.

Brian said...

The last couple times I ordered Kyochon in Korea it was like eating charcoal. Nene and Mom's Touch are better.

But, at least in Pittsburgh, you can get quality fried chicken at big grocery stores and even at Wal-Mart, so to get the Korean experience it needs to be delivered (in thirty minutes) by guys who are not only friendly, but don't expect tips for doing their jobs. Oh, and they need to give out free Pepsi and point cards.

Alex said...

Agreed!

snowmon said...

I hear they fry their chicken in two different temperature twice. That must be really cripy chicken, sounds delish with beer.

Alex said...

It IS amazing.