‘Rice-free society’… A 20-year restaurant owner’s struggle: “What to do with gonggilbap?”

“When I look at the leftovers, almost half of them are rice. It’s been like that for years, but I think people are definitely eating less rice these days” (owner of a samgyeopsal restaurant in Jongno-gu, Seoul)

“When we reduced the amount of rice we served to reduce food waste, some customers said we were being ‘rude'” (owner of Baekbanjip in Gwanghwamun, Seoul)

Self-employed people who run restaurants are in trouble over the issue of free rice. As the number of people who don’t eat much rice for dieting and other reasons has increased, the number of customers who leave rice behind has increased. As a result, rice often accounts for half of food waste. Some restaurants don’t serve rice at all, but only to customers who want it.

In some cases, restaurants have reduced the amount of rice served in order to reduce food waste, only to receive complaints from customers. This is because many restaurants have raised the price of gonggeumbap from 1,000 won to match the increase in rice prices last year, so there are many misunderstandings.

◇I see a lot of rice when I look at food waste… Reduce the basic amount

Kim Mo-mo, a 50-year-old woman in her 31st year who runs a pork belly restaurant in Jongno-gu, Seoul, said that whenever she sees food leftovers these days토토사이트, rice makes up about half of them.

“We are a meat restaurant, so there are many customers who eat meat and order gonggeumbap with jjigae for their meals, but most of them order about one dish for two people to share, and there are many people who leave even that,” Kim said, adding that people definitely don’t eat much rice these days.

An aunt in her 40s who runs Sundatgukjip in Jongno-gu, Seoul, also said, “Kobongbap is a thing of the past, and customers don’t like it even if you give them a lot of rice these days.” She added, “There are some people who want to lower the price by removing the uneaten rice.”

“No one complains when we reduce the amount of basic gonggeumbap, and if someone asks for another bowl of gonggeumbap, we just give it to them,” he added.

Yoon Mo, in her 60s, who owns Sundatgukjip in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, said, “Our shop is near a school, so we serve unlimited gonggimbap to hungry students,” but added, “People don’t eat much, so few people eat more than two bowls of rice.”

Restaurant owners say that since the cost of all-you-can-eat rice is not high, it is not a big burden to change to all-you-can-eat instead of reducing the basic amount. It’s better than creating more food waste, they say.

“The price of rice doesn’t go up that much, so it’s not a big deal for business owners, but when the price of other ingredients goes up, customers notice,” Yoon said. Lee, who runs Sundat Gukbap in Seoul, also said, “People eat a lot of kimchi when they come to a gukbap restaurant, but the cost of making side dishes like kimchi has gone up, which is a problem for the owner.”

Steam rises from a steamer at a soup restaurant in Geochang Traditional Market in Geochang-eup, Geochang-gun, Gyeongnam. (Provided by Geochang-gun) 2022.12.1/News1

◇’Rice-free society’…Last year’s per capita daily rice consumption ‘half a bowl of rice’

According to the ‘Results of the 2022 Rice Consumption Survey’ released by Statistics Korea in January this year, the annual rice consumption per capita last year was 56.7kg, down 0.4% (0.2kg) from the previous year, 2021. This was the lowest level since the statistics were compiled. Compared to the annual per capita consumption of 112.9 kilograms in 1992, more than 30 years ago, it has nearly halved.

To put this in perspective, last year, Koreans consumed only 155.5 grams of rice per person per day (about half a bowl of fried rice). This is also a 0.2 per cent decrease from 2021.

Based on these statistics, it is safe to say that it is a natural social phenomenon that people do not eat much rice at restaurants. Moreover, as more and more people are going on diets for their health, the consumption of gonggeumbap is decreasing.

“At my last medical check-up, my doctor warned me that I would be in trouble if I didn’t lose weight,” said Yoon Mo, a 30-year-old office worker in Gyeonggi-do. “I don’t have much time to exercise, so nowadays, when I go to a restaurant, I deliberately save half of my gonggikbap for something else and don’t eat it.”

Another Seoul office worker in her 40s, Kim Mo, said, “When I go to eat with my juniors at work, I often see both men and women putting half the rice on the table for diet reasons.” “I definitely feel that restaurants are consuming less rice than before,” she said.

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