Some food brands that found success in South Korea

SEOUL • They may be a rarity in South Korea, but some Singapore food brands have managed to find success in the land of kimchi.

Bee Cheng Hiang, for one, entered the Korean market in 2010 and now runs 17 bak kwa outlets all over the country. Their bak kwa is manufactured locally.

Ya Kun operates eight outlets here selling Singapore coffee, tea and the popular kaya toast, which is also offered at some local cafes.

Crystal Jade, which is known for its dim sum and other Chinese food, has nine restaurants and 10 food counters around the country.

Chicken rice chain Wee Nam Kee ventured into South Korea last year and now runs counters at two Lotte Department stores - one in Seoul and one in the southern port city of Busan.

Most of these food establishments have had to Koreanise their menu and recipes to cater to the local palate, a move that does not sit well with some Korea-based Singaporeans who would prefer to eat more authentic Singapore food.

Ms Jean Yeow, a 29-year-old accountant, rates Ya Kun as the most authentic for its butter toast and soft-boiled eggs, and Wee Nam Kee a close second. As she finds other Singapore offerings too Koreanised, she would rather cook her own meals at home.

Ms Irene Siah, a 25-year-old social media marketer, finds the Singapore food sold here too expensive. A plate of chicken rice with vegetables costs 9,500 won (S$10.95), more than double the price back home. "But I'd still go eat Singapore food here if any fellow Singaporean wants to go, or if my non-Singaporean friends want to try it," she added.

Chang May Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2016, with the headline 'Some food brands that found success in South Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe