Cost-emotiveness not cost-effectiveness.
When it comes to dining a quick, affordable bite just won't cut it anymore.
In other words, hearty meals that warm you up in more ways than one.
Won Jung-hwan sheds light on this trend.
"It is not just because I am single and living alone, it is something that I will always miss."
"When I used to live with my family, I thought that it was something always prepared by my mother three times a day, but now, since I am living alone, it is difficult to prepare it for myself."
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has recently announced the keywords that will lead dining trends in 2018. After surveying over 3-thousand people and analyzing consumption behavior, the ministry said the top keyword was 'cost-emotiveness'.
The word encompasses how visual design, restaurant atmosphere, and home-made recipes all add value to the dining experience.
This restaurant in Seoul has been trying to attract customers through 'cost-emotiveness'.
"Considering the recent trend is dining out alone or eating in a small group, we wanted people to come anytime and enjoy a full-hearted home-style cooked meal."
"Everybody makes home-made meals differently, depending on the day, available ingredients, and number of people eating,… but they often consist of rice, soup, and a couple of side dishes - a humble, but warm-hearted meal."
According to the owner, the number of restaurants that try to appeal to customers' sense of nostalgia is increasing, and home-cooking style meals, prepared with care and love, can really hit the spot.
"I live alone near this place, and I visit here often because the food is delicious and most importantly, it feels similar to eating at home."
When people think of home-made meals, words like 'family' and 'nostalgia' spring to mind. And that nostalgia is often a memory of childhood meals cooked by a loving parent.
But with more and more people eating fast and generic food, and Korea's food culture becoming more global and diverse, home-made meals have become harder to find.
So now, many companies in the food industry are targeting consumers who are tired of mass-produced instant foods, and who crave home-made meals, or rather are missing their family. But surprisingly, this trend is being led by the younger generation.
"In some ways, the digital generation, those who ate the most instant food, are recalling a lot of their family memories, and they are changing their appetite to more home-cooked healthy meals."
Zipbanchan laboratory prepares more than 100 home-made side dishes everyday for all its customers across the nation. It produces meals following simple steps, first washing the meat and raw vegetables, then moving the ingredients to the next place where they are cooked, before being stored and sent out to customers. But despite this approach seeming like a production line, according to the CEO, the most important factor when preparing these foods is 'love'.
"We are trying to provide a homemade meal to customers so that everyone feels loved, that is why we pick fresh ingredients by ourselves and deliver right to our customers' doors."
The craving for these home-made foods comes from the desire to eat humble and warm side dishes rather than fast food or instant food.
One regular customer explained why they eat such food.
"Actually, since I have been living alone for a while, I don't usually prepare a variety of side dishes. But every time I order these homemade-like meals it feels like my mom prepared them for our family."
As the variety and availability of cheap instant food is increasing, the number of people cooking at home is on the decline. But while dining out on instant or processed food can satisfy our hunger, it might lack the warmth we feel when enjoying a home-cooked meal - this is what we mean by 'cost-emotiveness'.
“With people leading faster, busier lives, fast food may seem like a good fit for those on a tight schedule,… but sometimes it’s better to slow down and enjoy life a bit… by having a warm and filling home-made meal with loved ones.
Won Jung-hwan, Arirang News.”