LIFE&STYLE

[ASEAN-Korea summit] Mouthwatering ‘ASEAN-ROK Food Street’ illuminates Busan

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Nov 24, 2019 - 16:09
  • Updated : Nov 24, 2019 - 16:09

BUSAN -- Perhaps it is fitting that a city known for a wide range of unique delicacies should host an inaugural event showcasing dishes from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states.

The 2019 ASEAN-ROK Food Street event kicked off Nov. 15 and is slated to continue until Wednesday at the Busan Cultural Complex Center for Youth, or Norimaru, near Seomyeon Station -- an area known as the “streets of youth” for its vast collection of bars, coffeehouses and restaurants. The event features pop-up eateries from the 10 ASEAN countries, an open-air market and cooking shows featuring Korean celebrity chefs.


People line up to buy tickets for ASEAN-ROK Food Street in Busan. (Busan Culture & Tourism Festival Organizing Committee.)

The food event opens each day at 1 p.m. weekends and 4 p.m. weekdays, and continues until 9 p.m., with the last order taken at 8:30 p.m. and the ticket booths closing at 8 p.m. Each dish costs 5,000 won ($4.20), with a package deal of four dishes priced at 15,000 won. Online tickets are sold out.

“The turnout far exceeds our expectations. We initially expected there to be around 20,000 visitors. But at this rate, it seems that the number will be around 70,000,” said Im Woo-geun, an official from the Busan Culture & Tourism Festival Organizing Committee.

Im said city officials are contemplating making it an annual event, thanks to its popularity. 


People line up to buy tickets for ASEAN-ROK Food Street in Busan. (Busan Culture & Tourism Festival Organizing Committee.)

The grounds were packed with visitors Saturday, most of them Koreans. The city allocated a budget for 100 dishes per booth on weekdays and 200 on weekends, but many booths ran out of food well before the official closing hours.

“(On Saturday) we ran out of food just 33 minutes after we opened, even though we prepared for 180 people. We never imagined so many people would be into the dishes,” said Rorelei, who runs a Philippine booth selling lechon, a whole roasted pig cooked over charcoal, which is popular in the Philippines. “We are the first ones here, since our dish needs to be cooked for six or seven hours, yet, our menu is among the first ones to run out.”

She and her co-workers sell Philippine food online via Facebook and mobile messenger service KakaoTalk, but some of the others had been invited from the ASEAN countries to participate in the event.

The road around the venue was closed off to cars Nov. 16-17 for safety reasons, as well as this Saturday and Sunday between noon and 10 p.m.


People visit booths at ASEAN-ROK Food Street in Busan. (Busan Culture & Tourism Festival Organizing Committee.)

Near the entrance to the venue is a drink booth that charges 10,000 won for three drinks. On the left are Korean-ASEAN fusion food trucks. According to Im, the organizing committee reached out to young vendors from Busan to come up with their own fusion food for the event.

“Since the food trucks do not require tickets like the ASEAN food booths, many people have been going there after the booths had run out of food,” he said.

The legal drinking age in Korea is 19, so ID is required to buy craft beer. 


eople enjoy ASEAN dishes at ASEAN-ROK Food Street in Busan. (Busan Culture & Tourism Festival Organizing Committee.)

The ASEAN Supermarket in the middle of the venue sells food and ingredients commonly used in ASEAN dishes. They include chili sauce and coconut sugar from Indonesia, and Singaporean Kaya -- a jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves that is used in the city-state’s “national breakfast,” Kaya toast.

In addition to the food, ASEAN Culture Library events with local celebrity chefs are taking place on the main stage, featuring cooking demonstrations as well as introductions to ASEAN countries’ unique cultures and tourist destinations.

For more information on the event in Korean or English, including the ASEAN Culture Library schedule, visit the homepage at https://2019food-street.com.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)