10 Dishes And Drinks Often Featured In Korean Dramas
Ever envied your favourite K-drama characters as they dug into delectable-looking dishes and drinks?
The influence of Korean culture all over the world is intense, so much so that fans are inspired to try anything the actors and actresses eat and drink. We take a look at some of the popular bites and beverages that often feature in K-dramas.
A popular Korean street food, this deep-fried battered hotdog forms a vital part of the 2020 K-drama, Start-Up. In the series, Choi Won-deok (Kim Hae-sook), grandmother of leading lady Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) owns a corn dog business where she meets second lead Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho) who will, later on, be involved in a maze of interesting twists. Corn dogs are the kind of snack that somehow bring out the child in you, or in this case, childhood memories for Han Ji-pyeong.
Bungeoppang in Vincenzo (Photo: Netflix)
Vincenzo's mother reminisces how she and her son would eat bungeoppang in the past (Photo: Netflix)
Hong Cha-young and Vincenzo Cassano snacking on bungeoppang in Vincenzo (Photo: Netflix)
A famous street snack during winter, this fish-shaped pastry filled with red bean paste (and sometimes custard) is traditionally cooked in a mold similar to a waffle iron.
It recently gained attention again when the blockbuster tvN and Netflix series Vincenzo showed the Cha-Cenzo (a nickname for the Hong Cha-young-Vincenzo Cassano lead duo in the series) snacking on this delicacy, which turns out to have a special connection with Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki)'s childhood. There is also an ice cream sandwich version of this popular snack.
Egg Drop Sandwich
This sandwich may look fancy, but it's one of the easiest snacks to prepare and a popular grab-and-go item in South Korea. Popularised by Korean chain Egg Drop!, this Instagram-worthy sandwich is made of fluffy scrambled eggs, melted cheese and crisp bacon enveloped in thick, buttery toast.
It's a calorific treat that's perfect for cheat days. In the heartwarming K-drama 18 Again, the young version of Hong Dae-young (Lee Do-hyun, 57th Baeksang Arts Awards nominee for Best New Actor) gifts his daughter Hong Shi-ah (Roh Jeong-eui) and her friends this snack.
How could we not include tteokbokki in this list? Perhaps one of the most Googled and replicated recipes among K-drama fans, tteokbokki equates to rice cakes and fish cakes drenched in a hearty sweet and spicy sauce; it's sometimes made even more sinful by including melted cheese.
The most sensational appearance of this Korean staple is in the 2019 drama Romance is a Bonus Book, where Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) and Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-young) share a kiss while indulging in rice cakes and fish cakes.
Romance is a Bonus Book is Lee Na-young's comeback to TV after being on hiatus since 2010, while the drama marked Lee Jong-suk's last before he entered the military service. With Lee Jong-suk's discharge early this year, fans can't wait to see him again, this time, with long locks.
Makgeolli (Photo: Netflix)
Scene from Vincenzo (Photo: Netflix)
Cha-Cenzo after a one too many bottles of makgeolli in Vincenzo (Photo: Netflix)
Soju may be the most popular alcoholic drink brought to the world by Korea. However, there's another understated libation that's gaining popularity now, thanks to Song Joong-ki's latest high-rating drama, Vincenzo, which puts the spotlight on makgeolli.
A cloudy, off-white rice wine that is 80 per cent water and six to eight per cent alcohol, makgeolli is a sweet and tangy old-school drink that is nutritious with high levels of lactic acid and lactobacillus bacteria. It is believed to aid digestion, improve the immune system and slow the ageing process. It is also rich in fibre.
Remember Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun) in Ji Eun-tak in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, where she is always spotted sipping from a tiny plastic bottle? What she was sipping on is banana milk from one of Korea's decades-old dairy producers, Binggrae. The beverage is so popular that it's recorded to have sold 800,000 bottles each day in Korea in 1974 and around six billion bottles have been sold across the country.
The bottle's design is inspired by traditional Korean jars. It is reported that this milk-based drink was created in support of the South Korean government's goal of encouraging its locals to drink more milk. Banana at that time was considered an expensive ingredient, thus, a luxury. Today, banana flavoured milk is distributed worldwide including in groceries and convenience stores in Malaysia.
Chapaguri / Ram-Don
One of the most controversial dishes in the Korean entertainment industry, ram-don (also known as jjapaguri or chapaguri or short for Chapaghetti and Neoguri, two different kinds of instant noodles) shows the stark line between socio-economic classes. The term "ram-don"—a combination of instant "ramen" and "udon"—was invented by subtitle translator Darcy Paquet, as the actual Korean name for the dish is jjapaguri.
The dish is a mash-up of Chapagetti, Chinese-inspired jajang ramen noodles, and Neoguri, Japanese-style udon reimagined in a spicy, Korean seafood broth. In the movie Parasite, the dish symbolises the two extreme ends of society combined in one hearty plate, earning its nickname "class-war-in-a-bowl". The less privileged are represented by the affordable instant noodles whereas the generous chunks of Wagyu beef on top of the noodles represent those who, well, can afford premium ingredients.
TATLER TIP: Bong Joon-ho has confirmed that there will be two sequels to his 2020 Oscar award-winning picture Parasite.
Crispy, juicy fried chicken is often paired with ice-cold beers in most K-dramas including Crash Landing On You (Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin), Start Up (Bae Suzy, Kim Seon-ho, Nam Joo-hyuk) and My Love From the Stars (Kim Soo-hyun, Jun Ji-hyun). It's quite impossible not to be tempted to order a box for yourself after.
How is Korean fried chicken different? Well, its distinct crunch is the result of using a paper-thin batter containing potato starch. Plus, the fried chicken is patiently deep-fried twice. Korean fried chicken tends to stay crunchy long after it's taken out of the deep-fryer.
Equivalent to the expression "Netflix and chill", an invitation to eat ramyun in Korean dramas almost always have a double meaning. While there is a juicy message hidden in the scenes involving instant noodles, we can't discount the fact that eating ramyun is one of the biggest influences of Korean culture on many parts of the world, including Malaysia.
Unforgettable scenes include Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon) and Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young) in What's Wrong With Secretary Kim?, Gu Seung-jun (Kim Jung-hyun) and Seon Dan (Seo Ji-hy) in Crash Landing On You, and Kim Jin-hyuk (Park Bo-gum) and Cha Soo-hyun (Song Hye-kyo) in Encounter. So, practise caution when answering someone who asks, "Do you want to eat ramyun?" unless you're ready for it.
Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy in Start Up (Photo: Netflix)
Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been) in Vincenzo (Photo: Netflix)
While Americanos aren't a Korean original, one thing is for sure: to drink an iced Americano is a big part of South Korean coffee culture. It is primarily due to the fact the iced Americano is very straightforward, with no milk, and thus, easier on the pocket. Americanos reportedly have the highest ordering rate among all drinks in South Korean cafés, so it isn't surprising to see our favourite South Korean actors and actresses gulp a cup or two on screen.
The most recent sighting of this caffeine boost is in Vincenzo, where Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki), a South Korean who grew up in Italy, orders an espresso, as is typical of Italians. He is in the company of Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been), a South Korean lawyer who can't last a day without iced coffee. The scene portrays how two different cultures enjoy different versions of the world's best-loved drink in its purest form.
Last year, Start Up's Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) indulged in iced Americano in order to ignite her and her team's brainpower while working on ambitious projects in Sandbox.
On top of this, coffee trucks are also very popular in South Korea. You might have heard of actors such as So Ji-sub sending an entire coffee truck to the set of Vincenzo to show his support for fellow actors Song Joong-ki and Ok Taecyeon. The Vincenzo lead is also reported to have sent one to the filming of Mount Jiri to support his good friend Jun Ji-yun.