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Korean menu too confusing?

2011/04/08 | 595 views | Permalink | Source


By Jane Han

NEW YORK ― So what in the world is spicy soybean stew, bean paste soup with tofu, and fermented bean stew? Sounds like a funky mix of bean dishes, but they all mean one thing ― "doenjang jjigae", a quintessential Korean soup.

For those familiar with Korean cuisine, ordering at a restaurant is a breeze. But not so much for the newbies, who first have to decipher the menu with all kinds of puzzling descriptions.

"I try something, really enjoy it and try to order the same thing again at a different restaurant next time, but then realize that I don't know the exact name of the dish. That's when I go into a description game with the server", says Jenny Patal, a Columbia University student and novice at Korean cuisine, or hansik.

Korean restaurants in the U.S. serve a full range of hansik, but dishes can take on a completely different identity on the menu depending on which joint you walk into.

For example, one eatery would label "tteokbokki", rice cakes smothered in spicy pepper paste sauce, as "stir-fried rice pasta with vegetables", while another simply calls it "rice cake snack".

The confusion grows worse when the actual name of the dish is entirely omitted or oddly translated.

"I recently took a non-Korean friend out to have him experience hansik, but I was surprised to read on the menu 'Mongolian Hot Pot' instead of 'Yukgaejang"', said Kang Woo-sung, a New York University graduate student.


"I knew there was a serious problem when he asked me why we're having Mongolian food at a Korean restaurant", said Kang, who was motivated at that point to take action.

As vice president of New York University Korean Graduate Student Association (NYU KGSA), he organized a campaign aimed at correcting menus at the city's large number of Korean restaurants.

According to the student group, menu information will be gathered from area businesses and passed on to the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee for further review and solution.

Kang pointed out three major problems with menu write-ups: Omitting proper dish names, incorrectly translating food names and descriptions, and leaving out descriptions altogether.

"Some restaurants simply replace the word 'japchae' with 'clear noodles' and 'galbi' with 'short ribs BBQ"', he explained. "But funny enough, Japanese restaurants carry the same dishes under 'japu che' and 'karubi', which misleads people to think these are traditionally Japanese".

Other odd menu listings include "chicken butthole house", which should be translated as chicken gizzards, and "six times", which is meant to label "yukhoe", beef tartar.

"Korean restaurants overseas shouldn't simply sell food to diners", said Kang. "They must try to package and sell Korean culture as well".

"Food plays a significant part in promoting culture, so an approachable and easy-to-understand menu is the first step to open up that cultural experience", he added.

뉴욕대 한인 학생회, 한식당 메뉴 수정

뉴욕_ 매운 콩 찌개, 두부가 첨가된 콩 수프, 발효콩 찌개...한국의 대표음식인 된장찌개는 영어로 표기하게 되면 정말 여러 말들로 표현이 된다.

한식을 접한 사람들에게는 식당에서 주문하는 게 어려운 일이 아니다. 하지만 새로 접하는 사람들에게는 이런 메뉴들은 이들을 더욱 더 헷갈리게 한다.

"음식을 하나 시켜서 굉장히 맛있게 먹어서 다음 다른 식당에서 주문하려고 하면 이름이 식당마다 달라서 힘들어요. 음식을 결국 종업원한테 음식 묘사 게임을 하게 돼요",라고 콜롬비아 대학생 Jenny Patal이 말했다.

미국의 한식당들은 많은 종류의 음식을 내놓고 있지만 메뉴판에는 각자 다른 이름으로 표기가 되어있어 많은 이들을 혼란스럽게 한다. 또한, 메뉴를 설명하는 방법도 다르고 번역도 이상하게 되어있어서 곤욕스러운 일을 겪는 일이 흔하다.

강우성씨 뉴욕대학원 한인 학생회 부회장은 사태의 심각성을 느끼고 이를 바로 고치기 위해 캠패인을 열게 되었다.

인근 한식당의 메뉴판들을 수거하여 한식세계화 추진위원회에 보낼 예정이라고 학생회는 밝혔다. 수거된 메뉴들은 위원회에서 수정할 것으로 알려졌다.

강씨는 세 가지 문제점을 지적했다. 첫째, 잘못된 이름으로 표기된 음식들. 둘째, 번역이 잘못되어 있는 음식명과 설명. 마지막으로 아예 빠져버린 음식 설명이다.

그는 "한 나라의 문화를 알리는데 음식이 매우 큰 역할을 합니다. 그러므로 음식점들의 메뉴들은 접하기 쉽고 또 이해할 수 있는 형태로 표기가 돼야 한다"면서 " 그래야지만이 진정한 문화 체험을 할 수 있다", 고 덧붙였다.

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