YG Entertainment is Korea’s leading hip-hop label that has produced many hit idol groups such as BIGBANG, 2NE1, Winner and iKON. But the company is now getting a reputation for its cafeteria’s tasty fare ― whether it wanted the fame or not ― and the dining hall has become a must-stop attraction in the neighborhood of Hapjeong, western Seoul.
The rumor about the mouthwatering meals has been around for a long time in the entertainment industry. But because the cafeteria is for YG employees and artists, and their guests, it is not open to the public, which piques more curiosity.
As interest has grown in the cafeteria, YG has shown it in several television shows, including SBS’s “K-Pop Star: season 1” and MBC’s “Infinite Challenge” in 2012 and 2013.
Canadian singer-songwriter Justin Bieber ate at the YG dining hall when he visited Korea for his concert in 2013. It is reported that Hollywood stars Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith, as well as legendary jazz musician Quincy Jones’ earlier visit to the cafeteria led Bieber to eat there.
The place is open for lunch, dinner and late-night meals until 3 a.m. Breakfast is not served because many employees arrive in the afternoon and work late.
The menu includes mainly Korean home-style cooking, comprising seven to nine dishes Monday to Thursday and five on Friday. Koreans’ favorite snacks, such as gimbap (seaweed rice roll), pork cutlet and tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried rice cake), are served on the last day of the week. Two cooks and a nutritionist prepare the food and post the weekly menu on the company’s intranet every Monday morning.
When The Korea Times reporter visited the famous cafeteria last Wednesday, workers were already queuing for lunch, 10 minutes before the dining hall’s opening at noon in the basement of the YG building. The venue is around 165 square meters, just big enough to hold some 20 people.
At Wednesday lunch, seven side dishes and cold seaweed soup were served with multi-grain rice. The main dish was bulgogi (Korean-style grilled marinated beef) with sides of spicy fish balls with kimchi and salad. It tasted more like a home-cooked meal than eating out. The food was nutritious and delicious. But, most important, the meals are free for employees.
“Everything served here is free and no other Korean entertainment company has such a cafeteria as far as I know,” a YG official said. “After the meal, you can also enjoy a cup of coffee from the coffee machine here, also free.”
It is said the YG cafeteria became popular because of its previous female cook who came from a famous restaurant nearby called “3-geori Pocha” in the Hongik University neighborhood. YG founder Yang Hyun-suk recruited her to provide delicious meals for his artists. But the cook is no longer there because she decided to take off for a while on account of a severe backache.
Source: Korea Times