|▲ Oh In-ran
Tteok-bokki is one of the most popular snacks enjoyed by Korean people. At least one or two Teok-bokki vendors or snacks bars are found on the high street. But a commonly enjoyed food does not mean it has the same taste. The beginning of Sunmae Tteok-bokki started at this point.
Located in Gwangmyeong Market near Gwangyeomg Sageori Station, Sunmae is attracting a great number of snack lovers in lines thanks to its differentiated hot and savory taste. While the rivals are enhancing spiciness on capsaicin, Sunmae is doing the same with natural ingredients: Korean sun-dried chili and Vietnamese chili.
The broth, made with kelp, salted cabbage and dried Pollack, is melted with 25 years of knowhow of CEO Oh In-ran. The most important bar rice cake, on the other hand, is made with sticky rice to maximize chewy yet tender munching experience.
You can choose among hot, middle and mild taste according to your preference. But whatever you choose, you will be satisfied with both taste and quantity. Of course you can order dumpling, Korean sausage and mini rice role as a side to increase the fun of enjoying Korean snacks.
“People might think snack bars tend to use cheap ingredients for maximum profit. But I have this sense of chef-ship that never using cheap ingredients. I started selling tteok-bokki on a mini truck when my husband’s business went bankrupt. There were many tteok-bokki sellers so I decided to use quality ingredients to give differentiation. And I saw I was right watching people waiting in line” says Oh.
Indeed, the words of Sunmae spread fast and the SBS Master of Living spent almost a year to find and persuade Oh to unfold her secret on the program.
But the success she is enjoying today did not come easily. She lost her husband to his chronic illness and had to pay a number of fines due to unauthorized operation of the vendor on the street.
“I was near closing the vendor since I could only open the business around 10 days a month. But thinking of my family, I just had to keep carrying on no matter what happens.”
Her endurance finally was well paid back: she secured a small store in the current location (Gwangmyeong Market) and her long time regulars in Seolleung still travel to Gwangmyeong to taste the unchanged and unforgettable taste.
With the business well settled and the sales steady flow or grow, CEO Oh invited her three sons to join the business; currently the second and the third are serving military duty and the first and a nephew are in charge of supporting Oh.
When asked whether she is planning a franchise, Oh said “I’m not interested in that at all because great part of the profit goes to the head office. I’m satisfied now. I just hope my three sons have their store to run their own business one day in the future. That’s all.”
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