A Korean restaurant at Citymall is owned by a local lady and a Korean man. Find out more in the following interview by Team ILoveSabah.
Let us know about both of you and how does it all started.
I am Sally and he is Cho, We are the co-owner of Korean BBQ Supul. We didn’t know each other but was introduced through a friend. It’s been working well and we manage to supplement each other in our respective departments. Cho controls the quality of food and menu while I am more into management of the restaurant.
Tell us more about yourself and Korean BBQ Supul.
Cho: I moved here from Korea about 8 years ago as life was getting harder in Korea. I searched for many places in South East Asia and somehow I managed to find Sabah as a great place to live. I’m glad to be here now. As a food lover myself and seeing that the market acceptance for Korean food is getting promising, I decided to open this Korean BBQ Supul some 4 years ago. Supul means charcoal in Korean. It’s the traditional way to do BBQ in Korea. We actually started this restaurant with real charcoals at our tables but changed to gas upon the management office’s advice. We prepare our ingredients not in our restaurant kitchen but at another place, so that our kitchen staffs can concentrate on cooking and serving the food without having to worry much about the quality of ingredient as it is taken care of properly.
Sally: I wasn’t previously in F&B business but when my friend introduces Cho to me, the idea of having a Korean restaurant sounds very appealing to me. I think there is a good future for Korean food in Sabah. I give a lot of feedback regarding the variety of foods we should serve as we Sabahan love to have many choices from the menu but Cho insists to do 1 choice at a time. We have a lot of discussions about this before settling down to the choice of menu we should serve.
Any signature product? Tell us more about the Korean food you serve.
Sally: Kimchi soup, bbq dishes, bibimbap (mixed-rice), and tteokbokki (spicy fried rice cakes).
Cho: A special thing about our dish is that I always try my best to keep the taste original and good as I’m a demanding food lover myself. I only sell food that has passed my own taste buds. We try to get Australian beef for our BBQ dish but we have hard time getting the meat to Sabah because of supplier problem. Koreans love Australian beef as it’s one of the best quality.
What do you think about Korean restaurant business scene in Sabah?
Cho: Good chance of success. The Korean trend is building up now. It’s better nowadays as people in Kota Kinabalu are more willing to try Korean food. Maybe because of the emergence of K-pop. People are also spending more time eating outside and trying new food.
What are the important criteria to run a restaurant?
Cho : You need to know who your target customer is. You need to have good food, to understand customers’ mentality, to serve them well, to keep clean, to be consistent. In short, good food is the basic, while a clean place and smiling staffs will be the secret weapon to success! Customers like good service and clean environment. I always remind my staffs to wipe the table with a clean cloth so our customers can eat in a clean condition.
What do you love about Sabah?
Cho: It’s safe here, I don’t have to worry much about my family. Life is relaxed here comparing to Korea. In Korea, we have to pay all sort of taxes and to endure a stressful city life. I want something different for my kids and they are having good education here. Besides, the air is fresh and the nature view is good with all the beaches. Most importantly, Sabah has affordable golf courses as I love playing golf!
Any advice for fellow Koreans who wish to move and stay in Sabah?
Cho: I think Sabah has the right balance in work and leisure life. The market is less competitive and the living expenses are lower. You can have good chance of success here by working hard.