Korean food company to open first overseas store in Manila

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Bulgogibrothers, a local franchise specializing in Korean barbeque, said Thursday it will open its first overseas store in the Philippines on Sept. 8.

The bulgogi store will be the first hansik, or Korean food, restaurant located in the city of Makati, the financial center of Manila, the company said.

Bulgogibrothers, established in 2006, offers bulgogi, or grilled beef with soy sauce and sesame marinade, and other barbequed items, with its stores embracing modern ambience.

After successfully settling in Korea with 28 stores nationwide, the company now aims to go global.

Starting with the first Manila store, the company plans to open two more locations in Canada and the Philippines in December.

"We want to play a leading role in promoting hansik around the world," said Zeus Yi, president of Bulgogibrothers, during a news conference on Thursday.

Except for its signature bulgogi sauce and soybean paste, the company plans to secure other ingredients such as beef and vegetables locally, Yi said, adding that "Korean beef is favored only among Koreans."

As part of the company's efforts for globalization of hansik brand, the menu will show the names of Korean food as they sound along with English description.

"Local staff said Korean language is not so difficult for them to pronounce. Considering the popularity of K-pop there, we thought Korean names would have unique and exotic appeal as well," he said.

Yi said one of the most important things to enter a foreign market was finding a good business partner.

The Manila store will be operated by the Philippines-based Bistro Group, the nation's largest franchise operator of foreign brands such as TGI Friday's.

The company is also eying the soaring Chinese market but does not plan to move there right now, the president said.

"In the case of the Chinese market, we want to manage stores directly. In order to do that we need to get bigger," he said.

With two more eateries planned within the year in Korea, the company aims to increase to 100 restaurants nationwide in the next decade.

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