Korean fast food company Bibigo is set to come to the UK, with the opening of a restaurant in London in September as the first of a planned chain.
Bibigo, which is owned by CJ Group, Korea's biggest food company, and has quick service restaurants in Korea, Singapore, China and Los Angeles, will open a flagship site in Soho in September. The group plans to open a further two to three outlets next year.
Unlike its international outlets, the London restaurant - to be called Bibigo Bar and Dining - won't be a fast food restaurant, but a more formal eaterie, centred on showcasing Korean cuisine.
"From past experience we learned that consumers need some time to get used to and understand Korean food so a fine-dining restaurant is a better way for us to showcase the cuisine," said Bibigo brand manager Choy Hejin.
"We're planning to open two to three more London stores next year and the a few more outside of London, which will be similar to the quick service restaurants we run internationally."
Bibigo Bar and Dining, on Great Marlboro Street, will accommodate up to 85 diners, with interiors combining traditional Korean elements with a modern design.
Head chef will be Leo Kang, who is a judge on the Korean version of MasterChef. He trained at London's Westminster Kingsway College before working at Zuma and La Tante Claire as well as Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London and at Ramsay's Verre in Dubai where he was chef de cuisine before returning to Korea.
The menu will combine traditional Korean flavours with local UK ingredients.
"We will use Korean spices with popular UK ingredients that wouldn't necessarily be popular in Korea," said Hejin. "Average spend will be around £25 at lunch and up to £55 at dinner."
By Kerstin Kühn
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