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Choicest Meal Co., Ltd. (CEO Hyun-Jun Chi)

K-food SOBOKO in fashion, Opening a new chapter with a classic Korean Jang

서울경제 ㅣ 작성자 : 운영팀


The longer the sauce is cooked, the deeper the taste. Choicest Meal Co., Ltd boasts a more special taste by adding a modern sense to the sauce that has been passed down for three generations.

The traditional gochujang here has evolved into “SOBOKO,” a beef stir-fried gochujang, and is fiercely digging into the gochujang market, which is occupied by nearly 90% of large corporations.


The grandmother and father raised 80-90% of corporate sales with gochujang and soybean paste, but the son, who is the third generation of the family business, turned the tide with SOBOKO. SOBOKO, which was sold in small quantities of 30 or 50 bottles, went viral around mom cafes. A product that did not exceed 10 million won in annual sales even when it was first launched in 2015 while pioneering markets in famous department stores, Market Curly, and Coupang, has now recorded cumulative sales of 300,000 bottles and has become a filial product with annual sales of 400 to 500 million won. done.

The power of SOBOKO lies in the variety of variations of red pepper paste.

It can be cooked by rubbing hot rice with an egg, and there is no delicacy if you eat it with a spoonful of pasta. It is perfect as a simple side dish or healthy seasoning. We met Chi Hyun-jun, CEO of Special Taste Co., Ltd., who is opening a new chapter so that the taste of Korea can come to the table of people around the world, so that grandmother's hand taste and father's patience bear fruit in the world.

I am curious about the story of the 3rd generation of the company.

“My grandmother’s hometown is Pyongyang. He said he had fled during the war and opened a Pyongyang naengmyeon restaurant in Sindang-dong, Seoul. Grandma, who hated that customers kept looking for alcohol, closed the business and started selling gochujang. My grandmother's Kook-Hwa-Pyo Gochujang, Byulmi Chosun Doenjang was popular enough to be sold nationwide, and my father took over the business. But in the 1990s, as large corporations grew in size in the gochujang industry, a crisis struck. The scrappy days continued, and my father was planning to close the company with only you, but I jumped in. I thought there was ample business potential with red pepper paste and soybean paste.”

I don't think it was easy from the beginning, but please tell us the process of launching SOBOKO.

“The reality was different. Gochujang is mainly used as a condiment for cooking, but as people are increasingly avoiding cumbersome things, they are not looking for gochujang or soybean paste. It was dark before my eyes. I was thinking about how to increase sales. A new breakthrough was needed. That's why I released 'SOBOKO'. SOBOKO is an abbreviation for beef stir-fried red pepper paste. I came up with it while thinking of a healthy product that can be easily added to rice without cooking. Usually, beef is ground when making stir-fried beef gochujang at home, but Sobokko cuts the beef by hand to bring out the texture. Here, stir-fry grain syrup made from rice, red pepper powder, and salt in a pot and mix them. If there is a lot of red pepper paste, it can be greasy and if there is a lot of meat, it can be greasy. With 40% Korean beef, it has a good texture and is a good side dish for a meal.”

Is there anything you paid special attention to for a new interpretation of tradition?

“If you use the name gochujang, you will have a preconceived idea of ​​what it will taste like, so we needed a new perspective. In the existing gochujang market, tradition was emphasized or price competition prevailed, but consumer-oriented thinking was less. We named it SOBOKO by adding cute fun to it while preserving the beautiful Korean language so that consumers can be curious.”

How did you secure sales channels such as department stores, Market Kurly, and Coupang?

“The market share of gochujang is close to 90% of large corporations. After making the product, to be honest, I was dubious. However, I took it to a small gathering as a test, and the 30 bottles I prepared were sold out in less than an hour. From this time, word of mouth began to spread around Mom Cafe, and 30, 50, and 100 bottles were sold out everywhere. As the number of people looking for it increased, the market widened.”


























Besides SOBOKO, there were also ‘SOBOKO Friend’ and ‘BAROUK’ with similar concepts.

“Foreign countries make high-quality products with a variety of ingredients for one source. Gochujang seemed to need it too. We decided to create a premium product line by moving away from cheap gochujang in plastic containers. I thought there would be more consumers who pay the right price and value the taste and texture. In SOBOKO Friend, instead of beef, abalone and shrimp were added to harmonize the taste of the raw material itself with the red pepper paste. ‘BAROUK’ soybean paste means that you can boil it and eat it right away, so we recommend it to those who are at a loss as to how to use soybean paste. It contains Korean beef, garlic, onion, shiitake mushroom, anchovy and shrimp powder, etc., so you can make a deep broth taste just by adding BAROUK. You can mix it with rice or eat it instead of ssamjang.”

It seems that we are pioneering a third market that is different from the existing market or convenience market.

“I eat a lot of convenience food these days, but when I eat it, I miss the home-cooked meals my mom makes. I wanted to deliver comfort and health by making a product that was simple and had the emotions of home-cooked food. I am also looking for new markets.

There are people who can't eat red pepper paste because of sugar. You can't taste tteokbokki and stir-fried pork. It is very difficult for Koreans to separate from spicy taste, so we made ‘Thankyou gochujang’ so that you can enjoy spicy taste without worrying about sugar. A lot of people on a low-tangoji (Keto) diet also buy it. Since overseas markets are diverse, such as gluten-free and vegan, we are planning to expand overseas with this product.”

Is there a way to eat SOBOKO in a different way?

“There are surprisingly many menu items that go well with gochujang. SOBOKO was created considering the tastes of foreigners from the beginning, so it goes well with Western food. Adding a spoonful of soboko to mussel pasta or soup is also delicious. Even if you eat SOBOKO on shrimp and biscuits in a canapé format, the spicy and savory flavors harmonize and become a delicacy. It will be a secret way to show off an easy and different menu when entertaining guests. Simple recipes are uploaded through the YouTube channel <특별한사람들[SPECIALIST]>.”

What is the goal of Choicest Meal Co., Ltd.?

“The best food is food prepared by my mother, but I am so used to it that I don’t know how precious it is. There are things that are so close that you don't discover their value. I think gochujang and soybean paste are such things. It is based on gochujang and soybean paste, but we want to inherit the tradition with a new perspective. In the past, Korean culture had to be explained to promote our products, but now foreigners are open to our culture. In line with that trend, we are looking at the possibility of overseas expansion of SOBOKO products. Gochujang has become a legacy that must be preserved and developed for me through three generations.”

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