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Snacks for Korean Executives

I am in charge of procuring snacks for a meeting hosting a small group of very senior execs from Korea (I have very limited familiarity with the culture) in the mid-afternoon - I am thinking a combination of fresh fruit (I am told no apples - anything else to avoid?), cold / hot drinks, and light snacks - here's my uninformed shopping list that I think I can probably find at H-Mart:

Shrimp Chips (Saewookkang)
Onion Ring (Yangparing)
Bugels (Kkokkalcorn)
Goraebap (whale food / fish crackers)
Rice crackers

Chocopie (Moon Pies or Little Debbies)
Pepero (Chocolate sticks like Pocky)
Homerunball (chocolate filled)
Sando cream centered cookies (like Vienna Fingers, Oreos, etc.)

Matdongsan (glazed deep fried flour w peanut sprinkles)

Any feedback or recommendations on what's most appropriate or not a good idea from this list would be much-appreciated - as well as if there are recommended source other than H-Mart - thanks very much!

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  1. you can get all this stuff at ming's too and avoid the bedlam that seems to be the central square h-mart right now.

    will step away from making recommendations for food though. :) outside my wheelhouse. however, all of that is so junky. can you not offer mostly fresh fruit, and maybe nuts, with just a few of these things for fun?

    what about spring rolls?

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Thanks - I can walk to Ming's at lunch, I think - should be clear that it's not going to be ALL of these "junk food" items, just 1-2 savory and 1-2 sweet. Nuts are easy and good as well.

      Spring rolls? Do you mean deep fried (at room temp - no place for chafing dish) or fresh rolls? Without or with sauce (probably don't want messy stuff around this table).

      1. re: rlh

        i meant fresh rolls.

        depends on the time of day and duration of the meeting too.

    2. I've seen many of those savories at Han A Rhum in Cambridge. Not the sweets, however.

        1. re: Greenteajoa

          Thanks - very helpful! Not sure about age, but expect older than 27 - Directors, VPs, and CEOs - will pick up at least a couple of these.

          1. re: rlh

            I'm also Korean, but only 24years old... looking at the list, I think they are more appropriate for way younger people casual hangouts?? I know older Koreans are usually health conscious, and would like nuts, dried fruits like mangoes or such (at least most of korean older generation I know do) and second what Greenteajoa suggested.

            If you can find ddeok (Korean style sweet rice cake) in your korean grocery store, that would also work well!

            1. re: puretopaz

              Thanks - this is a great help - exactly why I posted this question here!

        2. I don't mean to freak you out, but I think your execs would be insulted by this array of snacks. It's what I would put out for kids or friends, not for a group of (presumably) conservative Korean execs. It would be like putting out potato and tortilla chips for a roomful of American CEOs. I would recommend against offering any pre-packaged goods. It gives a message that they are not important enough to find them something a bit more special. Believe me, your execs would take note.

          As suggested, an impressive spread of the freshest fruit (peeled and cut up) and dduk would be appropriate (Koreans love their fruit). Does Tous Les Jours have any impressive baked offerings? Or, since it'll be relatively tough to find impressive Korean snacks in Boston, how about going out on a limb and offering some fancy American snacks? Koreans generally don't like cheese, but maybe a nice gourmet assortment from a favorite food shop or fancy hot and cold finger foods from an upscale caterer?

          4 Replies
          1. re: digga

            even small, but elegant and local, pastries and chocolates.

            1. re: digga

              This is the type of advice I asked for, so not freaked out at all -thanks very much - a nice sliced fresh fruit platter will definitely be there and maybe a few sweets / chocolates from somewhere local / unique (I have to pull up that macaron thread...) and fancy nuts (Watertown place across from Arax? I would be happy with good, junky potato chips at any meeting, but I understand they might not take it that way.

              1. re: rlh

                I do not recommend macarons or any tteok cakes. The macaron-type desserts are not popular in Korea (imho), and there are just too many better and fresher options than Boston-area tteok.

                Greenteajoa's recommendations are good for an idea of what you could serve, but from the posted HMart links, stay away from everything except the choripdong rice snacks. Everything else should only be served if you can get a similar item fresh from a bakery. Foe example, the Paris Baguette has a fancy roll cake that would be fine. As digga said, they will notice that you are serving baked items out of a box from HMart.

                Still, if you need another shelf stable item, then you could probably put out some Piroulines along with the rice rolls, if they are on a table with a nice spread of fruit and fresh baked items.

                Nuts are definitely popular, but I don't know that I would recommend them for a business event. They are put out more for celebratory events or as drinking food.

                Same with gimlis1mum's recs for smoked meats. Anju-type foods are very popular, but don't belong at business events.

                For Korean-palate bakery desserts, I recommend the custard cream bun, an donut, azuki cream croissant, or ichigo cream croissant from Japonaise bakery.

                I agree with the earlier poster's comments about cheese, but cheese cake is very popular in Korea. A light Japanese-style cheese cake or even just a thawed New York cheese cake would be well received, especially alongside a big plate of fresh fruit. I hate to recommend it, but an Edible Arrangements centerpiece (not dipped fruit) would make a great impression.

                If you want a different type of cake, the Eldo Cake House sponge cakes or sponge-fruit cakes are also likely to be well-received.

                Chocolate is an appropriate gift to bring to Korea, but I would not bother with it at a catered event. I think fresh cream-filled or baked items would probably make a much stronger favorable impression than anything chocolate.

                And if you can't get to any of these things, you will not insult them by going with hotoynoodles recs for any elegant and local pastries.

                1. re: rlh

                  Fastachi ( the nut shop across from Arax) has opened a second shop at 83 Charles street in Boston.


                  That might save a trip to Watertown.


              2. My friend from Seoul loves the things I bring her from my shopping trips to Baltic Deli - smoked mackerel, smoked kielbasa, and a pâté (sorry I don't know what it's called, they have it in the case up front). When her parents visited last year I brought them an assortment of these goodies & they loved it all.

                So to build upon previous suggestions, maybe have a platter of cut-up fresh fruit & a savory platter with smoked fish, sliced sausage or pâté, pickled mushrooms etc? And some chocolates from LA Burdick or another local chocolatier. (On my trips to Seoul I took small boxes of Burdicks truffle mice to give as gifts and they were well received).

                Btw the best sweet ddeok that I've found here were in the freezer section at HMart in Burlington. Sorry I can't recall the brand ne but they were small round ones in a variety pack, 8 or 12 to a package I think.

                1. don't treat them differently. i'd say serve what you'd serve execs/senior people from any country (including your own). i'd be sensitive to likes and dislikes (generalizing) among korean people - ie, generally like spicy, like pickled, dislike cheese. pick something local that's of high quality, presents well, and doesn't treat them like "foreigners" but rather as respected, senior business partners with appropriate regard for their (probable) tastes.

                  when i was working overseas, i always found it mildly insulting (if obviously well-meaning!) when people were obviously serving something to me because they thought it was "what americans eat". i preferred not to be singled out for my country of origin, although i always appreciated it when *likely* dislikes were observed and not included. it was always really nice to be greeted with foods from the country i was in that didn't emphasize my foreign-ness, and also respected "acquired tastes" i didn't have.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: chartreauxx

                    I agree, fresh "American style" food is the best choice. If I went to Korea on business, I sure would be disappointed if they served me packaged American foods.
                    One of the best things about traveling is trying foods you don't have at home. Fix the guests something delicious that you've made before for guests.

                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                      I have done many international office meetings with afternoon refreshments, including many asian cultures (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese). I would like to suggest that you use a good office catering company. We use Milk Street Cafe for ours -they are very knowledgeable about international customs. As well as paying attention to the nice fresh food that you provide, you should also pay attention to your presentation (nicer dishware/plasticware, napkins, etc.). I don't know how formal your event is, but if you can use real dishes vs. paper/plastic that makes a big impression. Stick with simple - fresh sliced fruits, some mini-pastries/sweets always are a hit, and individual bags/containers of mixed nuts (vs. big community serving bowl). Also do not be insulted if nobody eats the refreshments. Sometimes they just don't. As for beverages, stick with simple -coffee, tea, bottled water and do include some sodas - they like a soft-drink in the afternoon just like we do. As a nice gesture you could have a goodie to take away, nicely wrapped. Maybe a local chocolate. And dont' laugh, but a small nicely packaged maple sugar candy is a great local gift.

                      1. re: JudyHP

                        Thank you and everyone - Milk Street is a few steps away and will be the perfect answer - and based on all the helpful replies here, I will get a fresh fruit platter with coffee and tea service from them, and the supplement with some nice nuts, dried fruit, and Lakota cookies - which I pass daily, anyway - and think are some of the nicest looking and tastiest cookies possible to offer. Also, even if no one eats, this will be well-received by the rest of the office and my household later in the day...thanks again!

                        1. re: JudyHP

                          Why would anybody laugh? I think maple sugar candy is a really special and unique gift idea.

                          1. re: LilBrownBat

                            yep, very special from this area. you can get them in one piece boxes, put them in a basket, and then everyone can pick up some and take them home (to eat themselves, offer to relatives when they get home, etc)

                            1. re: Madrid

                              I'd be prepared for them to bring gifts, and have reciprocal gifts ready. And not in a basket, but given individually. Consider nicer gifts than maple candy, as a sign of respect. Another suggestion, if you have a trustworthy source for translation, I'd consider having business cards printed with Korean on the reverse. I've had experience with the importance of business card exchange, using both hands to receive, and read the card as you receive it. This link may provide some useful bits https://www.fsb.muohio.edu/mis399/stu...

                          2. re: JudyHP

                            a small to-go gift, especially in individual boxes, will be extremely well-received.

                            1. re: chartreauxx

                              Gift-giving in Korea is HUGE. If it's in the budget, a small, not highly perishable, token to take home is a great idea.

                              If you do end up with some sweets, make sure they're not too sweet, as Korean sweets tend to be far less sweet than Western ones...some have an element of savory-ness, such as red bean paste-based snacks. Azra had some great suggestions. We live right 'round the corner from Lakota - hubby loves them. Personally, I'll take 1 or 2 bites and I am usually done.

                              If there's any post-meeting entertaining, you'd be surprised at the extent to which buttoned-up Korean businessmen can really let loose after a few drinks!

                              Hope your event is a success!

                      2. I think Edible Arrangements is a great idea. Presentation and quality are of utmost importance in whatever you are serving

                        Maybe some specialty items that highlight the melting pot and entrepreneurial spirit of the US-

                        Roasted nuts from Fastachi
                        Dried fruit from Arax in Watertown
                        Cookies from Lakota?
                        Cannoli from the North End?
                        An array of antipasto type things from Fromaggio
                        and chocolates- Burdick's?

                        And I agree with Chartreauxx not to replicate what they can have in Korea.

                        Cheesecake can me messy to cut nicely,