Creativity Drives International Expansion of Korea’s Food Scene

Italian cuisine with a Korean twist from Mad For Garlic

Last year I wrote an article, Creative Culture vs. Process in South Korea, where I discussed the challenges and gaps in a creative workplace culture between the West and South Korea.

That said, I see huge leaps in Korea creativity. For one, a standout in originality, inventiveness, and inspiration is the Korean food scene– first in design style and décor of trendy Korean restaurants. And, secondly in artisan cuisine, both in flavor and their presentation.

I am following three popular South Korean chef-inspired restaurant concepts–Mad for Garlic, Modern Nulang and Seoul Bistro—more, so, as they are also moving into the second phase of a global expansion.


Successfully launched in South Korea and then Asia, Seoul-based Sun at Foods plans to bring their handcrafted artisanal cuisines to the U.S and the Americas. Their international growth now includes Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, and soon Dubai.

Additionally, in 2015 Sun at Foods in partnership with award-winning U.S.-based churrascaria, Texas de Brazil, opened in Gangnam Seoul, South Korea. Plans are to open additional Texas de Brazil restaurants by 2020.

Building on bringing U.S. brands to Korea, for offering the three Korean brands to markets like the Americas aligns with Sun at Foods Chairman Caroline Nam’s two-track strategy—“bringing in famous overseas restaurants to Korea– and exporting our own brands internationally.”

As for the international brand launch, originated in Korea in 2001, SUN AT FOOD’s Mad For Garlic is known for its innovative menu offering garlic-specialized Italian cuisine served in a unique restaurant setting.


Mad for Garlic’s creative preparation method of removing the garlic’s pungent smell and unique way of cooking Italian cuisine with a Korean twist has won the hearts of both garlic and non-garlic lovers, myself included.

Building on the success of Mad for Garlic are two new concepts Modern Nulung and Bistro Seoul.

Inspired by 1930s Shanghai Renaissance era, Modern Nulang combines the words ‘Modern’ and ‘Nulang’ which means ‘woman’ in Chinese. They have reinterpreted the era’s ‘modern women’ in their dishes, which guests describe as ‘Sophisticated’ and ‘Romantic’ Chinese Cuisine. Best of all, foodie’s find themselves indulging in an exotic Shanghai dining and cultural experience captured in Modern Nulang.

The third concept is Bistro Seoul. Here Sun at Foods offer authentic Korean cuisine made with fresh ingredients and seasoning prepared in a traditional but modern interpretation. Savory dishes include Grilled Short Rib Patties and ever-popular Korean style pancakes that include Kimchi & Seafood pancakes, Crispy Potato pancakes and Minced Shrimp & Seafood pancakes.

Sun at Foods’ plans are now underway targeting top U.S markets as well as meeting with industry leaders and potential regional developers.

Bottom line, when searching for creativity in Korea look to the restaurant scene as a front-runner.

Picture of Don Southerton

Don Southerton

Don Southerton provides strategy, consulting, and training to Korea-based global businesses.


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