How a Korean traveller started his successful ‘Kimstaurant’ business

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita |September 10,2018 - 12:15 AM

You can call it a spur of the moment, hit and miss project.

This was how 35-year-old Korean national Peter Kim, who is an economics graduate, described his plunge into the Korean restaurant business in the Philippines.

Kim looked back seven-plus years ago, when he arrived in Bacolod for a two-month vacation, and he had just done a year of travelling and driving in Australia in a camping car.

That Australian sojourn taught him how to cook his meals.

“I have to cook my every meal. That’s how I learned. Sometimes, I asked my mom for the recipe. Other times, I also developed recipes myself by checking the internet. I also cooked and served them to my friends who wanted to try Korean food,” he said.

And so when he arrived in Bacolod, and noticed that there were no good Korean restaurants in the City of Smiles, a thought came to his mind: Why not put up a Korean restaurant that offers authentic Korean food?

So Kim then in his late 20s, who only learned to cook Korean food during his one-year Australian excursion, ventured into the Korean restaurant business and set up “Kimstaurant” in Bacolod City in October 2010.

“I was thinking I can open a resto. If it fails, then I can just go back to Korea and work. But it was good, and that’s how we started,” Kim said.

Together with his Filipino partners, they set up the first Kimstaurant with a P7 million capital.

The resto turned out to be a hit as locals flooded the restaurant. In fact, 90 percent of their customers in Bacolod are locals and only a few are Korean nationals.

Chef, expansion
Kim was the “chef” in his restaurant and he churned out authentic Korean dishes like the restos favorite dish, the Korean classic dish, the Dolsot Bibimbap or sizzling pot rice mixed vegetables with beef, gochujang (Korean chili paste), and egg.
“Kimstaurant is authentic Korean food. We serve quite a lot of dishes because I want the people to enjoy and feel real Korean food,” Kim said as he has grown his restaurant business and has expanded to Cebu with the recent opening of his Cebu restaurant last July 26, 2018.
The restaurant is set up in a two-floor space in The Greenery in Barangay Mabolo, which can seat 70 people.

Traditional dishes
He said that what made the restaurant unique among the Korean restaurants in Cebu was that it served traditional Korean dishes other than the samgyeopsal or Korean barbecue, which is popularly seen in Korean dramas which are also well-loved by Cebuanos.

“I understand there’re plenty of Korean restos in Cebu. But I believe there is a big difference between most restos and us. They just bet on their samgyeopsal and it’s not really for fine dining. Their menu is okay. But I’m pretty sure we can serve better and it’s really authentic,” said Kim, who is the general manager of the corporation behind Kimstaurant.

He cited the ingredients they used on their dishes, which were imported from South Korea, had ensured the authentic taste of their dishes.

Kim also said that the other dishes that the restaurant was offering included Beef Galbi Jjim or braised beef short ribs which are fall-off-the-bone tender and rich in flavor, Jajangmyun or black bean sauce noodles, soy sauce chicken, japchae or glass noodles with vegetables, bulgogi or Angus beef marinated in a fruity Korean sauce, haemul pajeon or mixed seafood pancake, and the yukhoe or Korean-style raw beef with egg, among others.

Aside from the Cebu expansion, Kim is also looking forward to opening another Kimstaurant in Iloilo this October.

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