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Korean ‘food connoisseur’ with 101% Filipino heart – A rare find!



By J. Nava Cruz
Middle East
January 29, 2017

 
 


To our surprise, we bumped to discover a self-contained Korean sanctuary that shelters a beautiful, extraordinary ‘Korean story of life and food’ spanning for almost 62 years discovered in just two hours — a personal discovery that  will certainly be remembered for a lifetime.

The ‘Best of the Best Quality Restaurant’, or popularly known as ‘BBQ’ (Great Taste, Eat Fresh) located on the Olaya Prince Sultan Street (Opposite Panda) carries the record of No. 1 Korean Chicken Restaurant and is presently being managed by its Deputy CEO Ki Byung Seong, a Korean with 101% Filipino heart. A place that is truly a statement in itself, by itself.  A different dining experience, albeit, quite affordable.

At a glance, diners will certainly notice that BBQ brings perfectly to Saudi Arabia the purely Korean BBQ Trademark established in 1992 in Seoul, Korea — a culinary service that now span for four years since BBQ branched out in Riyadh on 16th October 2012 under the umbrella of Business Sure Company Limited.  From its interior design of well-tiled floors to Korean art frames and paintings to wooden-truss draped ceiling to slightly dim-lighting to its outstanding professional service so finesse in every detail to its array of food that displays and offers a whole scale of flavors utterly recognizable as truly Korean such as:  Korean BBQ chicken, Golden Olive Chicken Platter, ‘Combination Pizza’, Bulgogi Sizzling Beef, ‘Pomodoro’, Olive Tender Strip Salad, Crispy Chicken Burger and more.  And as we savor the Korean & Jamaican BBQ chicken, Terry & I had no single doubt, but to appreciate and love each gem of culinary wizardry that implodes with the taste and texture and pristine quality of the BBQ foods and its ingredients — it encourages a friendly, visceral feel.

But it’s not the shock of the new Korean cuisine that the ‘Best of the Best Quality’ (BBQ) Restaurant in Riyadh that remarkably counts, but this new amazing discovery of a special individuality of a Korean national with 101% Filipino heart.

Born in Seoul, Korea 62 years ago, Ki Byung Seong, who at an early age had been fascinated with all things about food, specialized in hospitality and food management during his early beginning.  At the young age of 27, Ki traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1982 to do hospitality management for a number of businesses of a certain family member of the Saudi Royalty.  From then on, Ki moved from one business institution to another (from Al Hokair Group of Companies (Health Care Division) as Operations Director to Business Sure Company as Deputy Chief Executive Officer), which by now, shielded and armed him with a solid 41 years of professional expertise in food and hospitality & service management.  

Ki Byung Seong said:  “I love Philippines that time I landed in your country in 1983.   I just love your country and I hope it develops and grow (economically).”  His love towards Philippines and Filipinos is genuinely manifested in how he is doing his best to help and take care of his Filipino employees.  From his personal advices and monitoring for them to save their hard-earned money and value the greatness of their families, most importantly, sharing with them the secrets of managing a business and culinary expertise.  Ki informed this writer that, out of his love for Filipinos, he is even patiently and persistently sharing with them even the magic of every single thing he knows like the secrets Korean cooking (since he believes that Filipinos and Koreans have almost the same taste in food), likewise, inculcating in them the grains of ideas and ideals of restaurant life as ‘profitable business’.  That includes the nitty-gritty from forage food delivery to the mechanics and steps to cook their array of Korean foods to the secret preparation of their own taste, most of all, how to concoct their own distilled culinary spirits. 

As we ended our two-hour chat with Ki Byung Seong, he parted us with his so amazingly personal thoughts: “We all now enjoy one world and one global taste. In this spirit, it’s always best to leave yourself throughout the world, especially in the minds and hearts of my most-loved fellow Filipinos.” And as Terry & I went back to our long-leisure-walk in Olaya Thalatheen heading home, we both agreed in unison that, we had such a lovely and a remarkable night celebrating our pre-Christmas day. For one, Korean flavors rendered so accurately, so intensely.  For another, that so beautiful Korean life-story with Filipino souls and essence, that hides in the four walls and corners of the Best of the Best Quality (BBQ) Restaurant will always be cherished — truly, the best of the best quality in terms of unique food, most of all, a unique life story.

(J. Nava Cruz, an OFW, is a freelance writer/documentarist & a published book author in the Philippines.  Recently, he launched his first Filipino novel, “See Me @ “06 AM”; right now, conceptualizing his next project for conclusion in the Philippines soon.) – With thanks to Terry Remo and Lurdan Ferrando, both food lovers & artists


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