Explore Gwinnett’s “the Seoul of the South,” a special Korean cuisine tour, rocks local food adventurers.
By Anna Kim
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and USA Today, Gwinnett’s Korean influence started stepping up in the early 90s as the Asian population rapidly grew from 3% in 1990 to 11% in 2013. Aside from the Korean influence, the power of the melting pot has made Gwinnett the most diverse and compelling county in the Southeast. However, we cannot mention the cultural melting pot without bringing up the well-known Korean cuisine.
Recently, Explore Gwinnett embarked on “the Seoul of the South,” a special Korean cuisine website for the foodies who hunger for Korean food and culture. The website is filled with Korean family-run restaurants that serve popular Korean dishes, such as: steamed pork belly, kimchi, samgyetang soup, jobchae, and bibimbap. You are able to explore the traditional Korean desserts from rice cakes to shaved ice, and Korean street food snacks like Kimbap, Ddukbokki, Odang and more in Duluth, the heart of the Korean population.
This year’s Korean cuisine tour, where attendees can relish a variety of Korean cuisine beyond aforementioned foods, opened to the public. Last year, the public could not attend these tours. They were for media, bloggers, and hotels only. Four well-known Korean restaurants were selected for the first tour destination of the total four (May, June, August, September): JangSuJang, Harue, The Stone Grill, and Paris Baguette. The Korean fried chicken really piqued the curiosity of people at Harue. The spicy ribs and cheese and egg souffle at The Stone Grill was another favorite. JangSuJang was a new participant and the braised beef and potatoes were very popular. Many people also mentioned that they couldn’t wait to visit Paris Baguette again to sample more pastries. All passengers who were 21+ were given a Korean Hite beer and they were very interested in other Korean beers. There were 30 people total, including four Explore Gwinnett staff. Out of the 26 paid attendees there were 2 people of Asian decent, approximately 6 people of African American decent, and the remainder were Caucasian. There was a good mix of people who had never had Korean food and people who already love Korean food. All participants moved from place to place by trolley.
The first tour made the big time.
“The goal of the tour was to highlight all of the great hidden gems amongst Korean restaurants in Gwinnett,” said Victoria Jones Hawkins, Marketing Communications Director. “Many visitors and residents want to try Korean food but they don't know where to start, what to order or where to go. We solved that problem by providing the tour as an introduction to Korean food.”
She added, “We hope that this event brings a new audience to many of the participating Korean restaurants. We also hope that the tour offers a new attraction to Gwinnett for visitors. Culinary travel is very hot right now and we wish that visitors will choose to stay in Gwinnett in order to be near the Korean dining scene. It would also be great to have Gwinnett recognized more throughout the Southeast as the destination for Korean dining.”
Explore Gwinnett is sticking to four tours for 2017, and they have already sold the majority of the seats for the June tour. They will continue to evaluate the tour to see if they will add more or expand marketing. All the participating restaurants for the tour will be solidified and promoted on the website soon.
The second food adventure is on track with more anticipation and all people involved are poised to make it work.
“All of the restaurants that we have worked with for these tours have been a dream to work with,” said Sarah Park, International Marketing Coordinator of Explore Gwinnett. “The staff, owners, and managers have been an important part of helping us to spread the word about Duluth's dining scene. We are so thankful for their partnership.”
Four well-known Korean restaurants were selected for the first tour destination of the total four (May, June, August, September): JangSuJang, Harue, The Stone Grill, and Paris Baguette.
This year’s Korean cuisine tour, where attendees can relish a variety of Korean cuisine, opened to the public.