The very taste of soy sauce marinated crab with the secret recipe over three generations captivates the taste of the Korean people: Samdae Incheon Gaejang

신태섭 기자l승인2021.07.28l수정2021.07.28 10:20

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▲ Samdae Incheon Gaejang / CEO Yoo Jang-hyun

(PowerKorea) Samdae Incheon Gaejang attracted a great attention from visitors at the Mega Show 2021 held at KINTEX last month. A considerable number of visitors swarmed in front of the booth of Samdae Incheon Gaejang and lined up to taste samples of the signature soy source marinated raw carb and marinated saloman shelled shrimp. “Wow”, “Great” and “Delicious” were some of the impressions ejaculated right after they swallowed samples. 

Samdae Incheon Gaejang is located in Songnimdong Incheon. Against my expectations, the outside of the store looked neat and modern and the inside clean and sophisticated. This 59 year old family business seems to be going along well with the trend of the time while the tradition intact. 

“It actually looked worn and old like you might have expected before. To be honest, I wanted to keep the things as they were for they were the living relics of our three generation family business from which the unique taste of our soy source marinated raw crab came from. However, dinners looked differently like it was worn and old and thus unhygienic. So I made a bold decision to close the store for 3 months to remodel” says the young CEO Yoo Jang-hyun.

And the bold decision was well rewarded by excellent reviews and steady flow of sales figures even in times of the pandemic where many offline stores are still struggling to make ends meet. It is also notable that this young CEO poured a great part of his energy and ideas to neat packaging and online retail.

Yeonpyeong Island is one of the best fishing areas for these Korean blue crabs. The island is known for its shallow depth of water and strong current, and its abrupt ebb and flow of the tides. The extreme tides bring the best quality crabs and it might be the reason the flesh is plumb and tenderly solid and the eggs are densely clustered on the bellies of female crabs. Naturally, they are sold at relatively higher price than their friend crabs caught other than this area.

Quality crabs secured, soy source comes next to make a decisive taste of Samdae Incheon Gaejang. Unlike buying soy source from a supplier, the young CEO makes soy source himself precisely according to the family tradition: it is called the seed soy source. Yoo’s grandmother, who started the business still visit her restaurant to check whether her grandson manages the business properly and to greet regulars warmly. 

I tried to check the reputation, and the high praises from those who have tried were unmistakably all present: the taste and texture were deep in flavor, tender in inner flesh, not that salty yet savory in soy source and not at all fish-smelly in eggs. At this point, I can surely say that it is not ‘rice thief’ like many Korean gourmets praise but ‘rice robber’ meaning that it alone is enough to finish a bowl of rice even faster than the thief. And it was impossible to leave the restaurant without ordering a new one to take away home for family. 

Samdae Incheon Gaejang has been one of the best local restaurants for nearly 60 years. And Yoo made the business even more flourishing through online retail despite the objections from his family 5 years ago. As a result, Samdae Incheon Gaejang is now enjoying one of the top ranked sellers online and in the nation. Along the course, Yoo established LEEYOU F&C and expanded business to B2C. 

He found out that most of online sellers focused on selling gaejang based on weight. A box of soy sauce marinated gaejang contains an average of 3-4 crabs. It is much easier for sellers to sell by weight but more difficult for consumers since they are confused as to how many crabs they may get. So Yoo decided to sell by quantity to solve the issue. This idea was a big hit and the business was a huge success. 

Yoo also paid a great attention to needs and wants of consumers and he, as the CEO of the business, directly dealt with customer complaints. He once flew to Jeju Island on receiving a complaint about the taste, packaging and delivery. This surprised the customer who was touched by such an unexpected visit of the CEO himself. It was one of his many stories of creating a fresh ripple in the e-commerce market. It is not surprising to know, therefore, that Samdae Incheon Gaejang keeps more than 4.7 scores out of 5 with more than 50,000 reviews on the South Korea’s most influential web portal Naver.

Yoo is a man of action. When some of Chinese fishing boats crossed NLL (Northern Limit Line) during the close season to have swept the Yeonpyeong Island crabs, he flew to the island to join the counter measuring Korean fishing boats. During the struggling, he got injured one of his legs and the wound is still there. 

Not all is lost however: he made an acquaintance with a captain and signed a deal for a direct supply. As a result, quality has become even better: The crabs get frozen at -50 degree Celsius the moment they are caught. Yoo then takes them out just a day before the marinating process. This process is then followed by a second marinating procedure before which they are delivered to consumers within the day. The crabs that do not meet his standards are not used. ‘

Some of the hot sellers of Samdae Incheon Gaejang you might want to try are saloman pure flesh gaejang, marinated saloman shelled shrimp and marinated seed oyster. Saloman pure flesh gaejang literally is rich in flesh. Marinated saloman shelled shrimp was one of the sold out products at the Mega Show 2021. It is washed with Himalayan pink salt and is not slippery but tenderly chewy. The lately released marinated seed oyster first met consumers through a live commerce channel and the actor show host Kim Bo-sung gave an enthusiastic praise after tasting it himself and it led to a series of orders from shoppers. Encouraged by this, CEO Yoo is to launch a new menu of marinated hermit raw crab in October where the fishing season resumed. 

"I had to change the business name to Samdae Incheon Gaejang from Incheon Gaejang due to the similar names from other brands. I also patented my brand as "Alpoomgae". Some consumers who have bought from other brands who have similar names as we do complain to us thinking that we are the other brands. I feel sorry about their disappointment but there is nothing I can do about it. I strongly recommend them to double check brand names before making purchases” advises Yoo.

As for the future plan, Yoo is working on relocating the factory with expanded production facilities within this year. This is part of his effort to secure an export channel overseas and to launch a seafood franchise in earnest. 

PowerKorea is an official partner of Herald Corporation. The magazine is distributed to the KOTRA business centers in the world. PowerKorea publishes latest news of government, Samsung, Hyundai and LG and endeavors to serve a platform to engage with people around the world.


신태섭 기자  tss79@naver.com
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