[Soup] How did 'Omakase' become popular?

Did you plan well for the new year? Or maybe your new year starts with the Lunar New Year holiday? What kind of atmosphere and scenery will unfold at the end of 2023?

[Soup] How did 'Omakase' become popular?

Did you plan well for the new year? Or maybe your new year starts with the Lunar New Year holiday? What kind of atmosphere and scenery will unfold at the end of 2023?

Did you plan well for the new year?

Or maybe your new year starts with the Lunar New Year holiday?

What kind of atmosphere and scenery will unfold at the end of 2023?

It's a bit (?) early, but I think I can roughly draw it.

First of all, the media companies will make something called the top 10 news that summarizes the year.

Professor Newspaper announces the four-character idiom of the year (for reference, the last 2022 was 'Gwaibulgae', which means that you do not fix it even if you make a mistake), and!

Professor Nando Kim's team will release a new trend report.

The cycle and speed of trends are so waves that it is difficult to keep up with, so that new books summarized with new keywords can be released every year.

Trends, so to speak, are sometimes due to a very small chance, or when the water bottle that has been pouring in one after another finally bursts out.

Oh.ma.ka.se, which has been called synonymous with 'people these days' for several years.

What about trends?

At first, it was a novel menu, eaten only by the rich, but gradually transformed into a target for boasting and showing off on social media, and to a target of ridicule as a representative icon of the recently entered 'consumption trend that does not know how to count'.

The 'sugang application' craze has not cooled down... Expansion also with derivatives

According to 'Big Kinds', a news big data analysis service, it was in 2002 that the expression 'Omakase' first appeared in the Korean media.

There was an article in the Dong-A Ilbo that Nobu Restaurant in Aoyama, Japan was preparing to enter Korea.

At the current exchange rate, it is about 100,000 to 200,000 won.

Since then, over 20 years have passed, the keyword 'Omakase', which was mentioned almost once or twice a year, has been mentioned in 98 articles in 2019, 144 in 2020, 22 in 2021, and 413 in 2022. It really exploded.

It started, 'Sugang Application'.

It's been nicknamed that getting a reservation for a sushi restaurant serving omakase is as difficult as signing up for a popular university course.

As many of you know by now, 'Omakase' is a Japanese word meaning a service that entrusts the handling of certain tasks to others.

Just as sushi omakase assigns the chef the menu of the day, it is entrusted with a specific service 'knowingly, neatly and sensibly'.

As a result, in Japan, it is mainly used to refer not only to sushi, but also to 'customized' services such as omakase rate plans and omakase delivery.

As part of the purification movement, there is also a campaign to dress in 'entrusted' or 'assigned' outfits. How about that?

Still, '-kase' still sticks to your mouth, right?

In Korea, various '-Kase's have appeared one after another.

As the espresso bar trend overlaps, there is 'Coffee Kase', where you can experience various types of coffee, and 'Imokase', which serves your aunt according to the food ingredients at your discretion.

In addition, 'Stationery Kase', a comprehensive set of writing instruments for fans of stationery, and 'Omakase Sticker', a multi-purpose targeting the Daku (diary decorating) group, have also appeared.

It went from being a kind of food menu to a kind of cultural code.

Until the gourmet food enjoyed at the hotel becomes a local restaurant

Normally, sushi omakase is divided into three grades: entry, middle, and high end.

These days, prices have risen, so it is common to refer to 80,000 won, 100,000 won, and 200,000 won or more per person for dinner, respectively.

It's still expensive for a single meal, but accessibility has improved a lot as the number of entry-level sushi restaurants has increased dramatically over the past few years.

It usually consists of three main dishes: starter, main sushi, and dessert. The number of courses and the chef's choice of 'ingredients' for the day are the main factors that determine this grade.

For starters, ingredients with a smooth texture such as abalone or octopus are served, followed by light white fish, followed by blue fish, tuna, and eel.

High-end omakase with open prices has a high degree of freedom in the use of ingredients, and in the case of entry-level omakase, which is relatively inexpensive, many places require you to order alcoholic beverages to make ends meet.

According to the food service industry, the first places to introduce omakase in Korea are the Shilla Hotel (Ariake) and the Chosun Hotel (Sushijo).

Targeting a small number of domestic gourmets, the two hotels compete to recruit representative chefs from famous sushi restaurants in Japan, and are evaluated as leading the revival of omakase in Korea.

Sushiyas in Apgujeong and Cheongdam, which are still in business, are independently owned by chefs from the two hotels.

As the popularity of omakase increased, more than hundreds of people gathered in telegram and KakaoTalk open chat rooms to share real-time information on sushi restaurants nationwide, and organized this collective intelligence to provide information on 403 sushi omakase nationwide (216 in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province). 74, 113 elsewhere), and an at-a-glance spreadsheet is also in circulation.

It is still distributed in many areas near Gangnam, but now it has become popular enough that you can find omakase restaurants worth going to in Seoul and the metropolitan area.

It seems that Corona 19 also had a big impact on the explosive interest.

Looking at the keyword trends searched on the Naver portal based on users of all ages, the search volume for 'buffet' and 'omakase' crossed in 2020, and since then, the search volume has started to increase noticeably.

It seems that the compensatory mentality of eating more high-end food for even one meal seems to have played a role in the seating system operated by a small number of elites in 1-2 divisions and the reduced frequency of eating out.

Is Omakase the answer to 'starting a restaurant these days'?

There is also an analysis that the 'Omakase Great Century' has arrived at the supply level.

So, many of the young chefs who have just opened stores have chosen omakase as their main menu for various strategic reasons, and accessibility has increased significantly.

In fact, most sushi restaurants have counter seats in the form of a bar rather than table seats.

It is economical because you can receive guests in a relatively small space, saving space costs such as rent, and it is a great advantage that you can reduce the risk of inventory management as the 'reservation deposit system' that started in high-end sushi shops has settled down.

It is easy to form a rapport through conversation while showing customers almost the entire process of making sushi, and the burden of hiring hall server staff can be greatly reduced due to the close proximity to customers.

Of course, it is easy to reveal the chef's skills as it is, and in the case of a small sushi shop, there is a point that the chef who has to solve various roles alone is physically tough, but it is also a 'today's generation' young boss who wants 'a small but definite advantage' Omakase is such an attractive option.

Chef Baek Seung-yeop, who opened a middle-class sushi restaurant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do six years ago, said, "Omakase seemed the most appropriate in a situation where we had to start a business to survive."

At the time of establishment, the target customers were 'business customers' because of expensive meals, but now most customers are couples or families in their 20s and 30s.

Mr. A, who has been working in Japanese cuisine for 23 years, also chose omakase as the first menu he tried after becoming independent in 2020.

It was attractive to be able to exercise discretion to the fullest.

"Most of the customers are in their 30s. There are a lot of regulars. I tend to put the most emphasis on price and quality of ingredients. There are too many Korean omakase restaurants right now. You can think of 80% as following the trend. They don't have the skills. However, there are many people who have opened stores, and most of them are not following their own menus, but following the menus or trends of popular chefs. Representatively, futomaki (Japanese-style gimbap served at the end of a sushi course) is like that."

Is it 'bluff' or 'culture'?

As much as it has become a 'trend', the voice of criticism follows.

In summary, omakase is not 'ordinary price' enough to be consumed by the public.

In fact, even for an entry-level meal, the cost of about 80,000 won per meal is not a burdensome level.

A real estate YouTuber called omakase and used the expression 'pretentious inflation' to the effect that the younger generation should avoid it because it is an unreasonable consumption behavior.

It is said that consumption that does not fit the fountain spreads through social media, etc., which has a negative effect on young people accumulating assets.

As the expression became fashionable, omakase also acquired a 'stigma', symbolizing the luxury trend of young people these days.

It is also used in the context of promoting class consciousness.

In 'Blind', an anonymous community of office workers where you can verify your affiliation and join, a doctor user posted a post saying that it is difficult to make a reservation at a famous sushi bar, so people with monthly incomes of less than 4 million won after tax should make a bill to prevent them from enjoying omakase. There were also heated discussions.

However, some point out that it is a flat interpretation to define the omakase craze as a simple 'bluff' at a time when Korean people's gastronomic culture is in full swing.

Kim Hun-sik, a popular culture critic, says that the omakase trend

can also be seen as

"a window to resolve deficiencies that have not been addressed in the existing culture ."

"In the mainstream Korean dining culture, which has performed the function of exchanging meals like set standards and rules, (Omakase) is a case of acquiring a kind of 'bilaterality'."

It means that consumers have come to recognize the act of eating food as a kind of 'content' rather than recognizing it as a purpose.

Chefs who are actually working in the field have also told me that it is a time when interest in 'Crazy Tech' is increasing in the old days, but the business situation of the store does not seem to be affected by the economy yet.

On the contrary, the trend is that the number of competitors is increasing, and the quality of ingredients and novelty of the omakase composition, that is, the chef's skills, clearly distinguishes those that will soon be eliminated and those that will succeed.

Chef Kim Jun- ho

, who said that it has been a year and a half since opening the restaurant in Busan, said, "There are times when the economy is good and there are times when it is bad.

It is true that

4-5 years ago, when I was working at a restaurant, people asked me to omit mackerel, probably because of prejudice against blue-backed fish and the perception that only live fish is good, but these days, there are customers who only want mackerel separately.

The level of gastronomy has risen.

"he said.

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