Insights & Trends

Korean flavour fever: the trend that’s sweeping the UK culinary scene

April 2024

The culinary landscape is ever evolving, and with the rise of social media platforms like TikTok, food trends spread faster than ever. The trend on everyone’s lips right now? Korean.

PR & marketing intern Bethany digs into the current wave Korean flavours. And shares why she believes they are here to spice things up and bring the punch of flavour people have been craving.

Captivating the taste buds of trend followers, Korean cuisine has taken the spotlight in recent years. In a survey spanning the globe in 2022, a whopping 49.1% of participants declared Korean food as “very popular” highlighting its growing popularity across the UK.


Where has this rise come from?

  • Cultural influence: Korean pop culture’s influence extends to the rise in food; Readers Digest believes these famous faces have been able to connect to their international fans through making their culture more accessible via social media. Promoting the food that they love has created a demand and thus a boost in new supermarkets, street food pop ups and the popularity in fusion pub locations.
  • Explosive digital growth: TikTok videos tagged with #KoreanFood have seen a remarkable increase in views and engagement, with a staggering 700.9 thousand posts under that hashtag alone. Alongside this, Alice Fisher from the Guardian discovered the hashtag “Koreancorndog” has had 68.7 million views on TikTok since late 2023. Showing just how explosive internet trends can get and the audience reach it can achieve.
  • Health benefits: Health is always a motivating factor of new cuisine with 28% of people involved in a study from HelloFresh saying they want to focus their meals on benefiting their health. Journal of Ethnic Foods stated that due to the minimal sugars and fats, Korean food is considered quite healthy. The inclusion of fermented vegetables, balanced meals, and the boost of spices makes Korean food not only appealing for its nutrition but also its flavour.


What are the opportunities pubs might have?

  • Diversifying menus: UK pubs can capitalise on the growing demand for Korean food by incorporating Asian fusion dishes into their menus. A survey in 2019 showed that 4% of respondents stated that Korean food was very popular in the UK. While still high, the boom of TikTok has most likely increased that percentage by a substantial amount.
  • Creating social media buzz: Pubs can leverage TikTok’s reach by featuring their offerings in videos. 55% of survey users said they wanted to visit restaurants due to their online videos. Alongside this, 51% percent of users from the same study said they visited restaurants because of new menu items featured in videos. With TikTok’s primary user base consisting of Millennials and Gen Z, pubs can attract these demographics by staying on top of trends.
  • Increasing revenue streams: Adding Asian fusion dishes can lead to a significant revenue boost for UK pubs. Increased popularity, a diverse range of flavours and keeping up with new trends is vital for UK pubs and restaurants to increase revenue.


Who is already ahead of the game?

  • The Pond, Brighton: The Pond is a perfect example of a successful fusion pub that embraces Korean influences. With an environment and menu that blends traditional British pub fare with Korean flavours, such as Korean BBQ wings, boa buns and kimchi-loaded chips, making it a hotspot for food enthusiasts seeking innovative culinary experiences.
  • Bunsik, London: Bunsik is a Korean street food shop that has garnered a loyal online following for its delicious and authentic Korean dishes, especially their “K-dogs”. Due to their rise of popularity on TikTok they are known for having queues form down the street with an incredible selling rate of 1 k-dog every 20 seconds (The Guardian).
  • Bibimbap Soho, London: Bibimbap Soho is another example of a successful Korean fusion establishment in London. Specialising in the iconic Korean dish bibimbap, the restaurant offers a variety of creative toppings and flavour combinations, catering to both traditionalists and those looking for something new.


As social media continues to shape culinary preferences and consumer behaviour, the popularity of Korean food presents a unique opportunity for UK pubs and restaurants to innovate and thrive. With UK pubs being on a predicted 1.3% revenue decline since 2019 (Lumina Intelligence, 2022) embracing trendy fusion cuisine and leveraging social media platforms can help pubs can try stay ahead of the curve. Trends like these truly do suggest that sugar, spice and everything nice really does make for a great culinary experience.