The number of foreign residents in the heart of Seoul has surged over the past ten years. With this trend has come a growing selection of foreign cuisines.
The foreign population in the city expanded to total 255,749 as of 2009, almost a four-fold jump from the total of 61,920 registered in 2000, according to figures provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
It showed more than a ten-fold increase in the number of foreign-operated restaurants totaling 1,956 as of July 1, 2010 compared with the 182 recorded in 2000. These multicultural restaurants are, of course, situated in foreigner-concentrated residential areas.
With all the choices out there, it may not be a bad idea to try out new culinary experiences.
The Seoul government said that it plans to offer support to create a business operation guide in English to help foreign restaurant owners understand Korea’s food safety standards. In this line, the government said plans are underway to prepare a guide book of ethnic restaurants around the city, along with an accompanying menu, all in English, to distribute to visitors during the G20 Summit in November.
Seoul expects a lot more visitors to flock to the COEX, the summit venue, compared to the more than 800,000 foreigners who made their way to the COEX area last year. The city government, therefore, plans to help make 15,000 English menus and introduce the estimated 1,500 restaurants located around the COEX, ancient palaces, and tourist sites.
Seoul City has in fact been offering various forms of support to help produce a foreigner-friendly menu at the restaurants and a variety of information materials in diverse languages in order to improve convenience for foreigners and tourists.
In 2008, the government helped to install foreigner-friendly menu booklets and panels at 150 Korean restaurants in various languages, such as English, Chinese, and Japanese.
It also produced a guidebook of the most popular restaurants among Chinese tourists. This guidebook is available at the Myeong-dong travel agency, and the Namdaemun Tourist Information Center. Tourists also have the convenience of finding all the Korean restaurants, specialized in using traditional ingredients and preparation methods, which should be worth trying out, thanks to the recommendation of the city government. The collection of recommended venues is available in booklet form at travel agencies and companies, while it is being promoted on the Internet.