In discussions of ethnic restaurants, the first question many people ask is, "Is it authentic?" Restaurateur Joseph Kim is aware of this, so at his two Dae Gee locations (I review the one on Colorado Boulevard this week), his cooks "are doing it exactly the way they would in Korea," he says. But what happens when authenticity bumps up against what customers want?
That's just the predicament Kim finds himself in, because what his customers want is dessert. And dessert isn't customary in Korea. See also: Dae Gee Shows What Korean Food Is All About
"Traditionally, dessert is not a part of a meal," emphasizes Geenie Gartland, a friend of mine who grew up in the small town of Mokpo, South Korea, and moved to the United States a decade ago. When she was a child, her parents gave her fruit after dinner, including apples, persimmons, pears and strawberries, and only on special occasions such as birthdays and major holidays would she indulge in sweets such as rice cakes.
One reason for this is that most families in Korea don't have ovens. "Baking homemade cookies or cakes is unheard of," Gartland says.
Still, Kim realizes that in this country, his audience is accustomed to a sweet ending. "We have had a lot of requests," he says. To respond to those requests with an eye to convenience, he's considering adding pre-made desserts such as cheesecake to the menu. And one day, he hopes to add red bean shaved ice -- but he's not in any rush. "When we're staffed a little better, we will probably incorporate it," he promises.
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