List of tvN’s Popular Korean Cooking Reality Shows: ‘4 Wheeled Restaurant’, ‘Youns Kitchen’, and More


Feast Your Eyes On This Line-up Of Cooking Reality Shows

TVN hit the jackpot with its line-up of cooking-themed reality shows. Their programs became the viewer’s favorite mainly due to their fresh concepts, scenic shooting locations, and entertaining cast members. Cast members travel to beautiful places and treat the locals with delicious food and friendly conversations. Feast your eyes on these line-ups of fresh and entertaining cooking reality shows.

In this article, Channel-Korea will present you with everything you need to know about tvN’s popular cooking reality shows. So, stay tuned and keep scrolling down this article.

4 Wheeled Restaurant

4 Wheeled Restaurant is one of the Korean variety shows with cooking themed episodes. A group of Korean celebrities, one of them is a professional chef, will travel to foreign countries, cook local cuisine, and serve the food to local people in their own country. The idea is that the food must be acceptable to people in the original country. The professional or main chefs have years of experience in cooking the cuisine and operate restaurants that serve foreign cuisine in Korea.

In 4 Wheeled Restaurant Season 1, the cast members traveled to Thailand and tried their luck cooking Thai food for local people. The program was aired on tvN from March 27th to May 5th, 2018 at 11 p.m. KST.

The cast members were TV personality Hong Seok-cheon, Shinwa’s member Lee Min-woo, and actor Yeo Jin-goo. Hong Seok-cheon is a professional chef that owns several Thai food restaurants and is popular for years of experience in cooking and preparing Thai food. Season 1 was divided into 8 episodes and received the highest average ratings of 1.88%.

In order to keep the title as “The Most Famous Thai Food Chef,” Hong Seok-chon showed his never-ending spirit and cool-headed restaurant owner character. He was born to be an entrepreneur and has a high interest in any Thai food-related topics. Lee Min-woo was responsible as a deputy chef. Aside from being an older brother to Yeo Jin-goo, he showed that he has respectable cooking skills. For the team, he became the energy and the brain of the team, solving problems with his ideas.

Rather than becoming a poster boy, Yeo Jin-goo showed that he can contribute to the team. He has a truck driving license and was responsible for driving around the food truck. With his charming smile, he was responsible as a cashier and financial manager. Each of the members had a similar proportion in the team and their responsibilities were considered equal.

Comparing the food taste, Thai people said that the taste of Korean chefs’ Pat Thai was different than the original Pat Thai. It didn’t taste like the original Pat Thai. The main chef, Hong Seok-cheon was visibly stressed upon hearing the comments.

4 Wheeled Restaurant Season 1 was criticized for being influenced by Director Na Young-seok. The theme, editing, captioning and shooting style appeared too similar to Na Young-seok’s Grandpas Over Flowers. It appeared that 4 Wheeled Restaurant’s director, Lee Woo-hyeong used to work under director Na Young-suk and was responsible for editing.

4 Wheeled Restaurant Season 2 was filmed in China. It was aired on Saturdays at 6 p.m. KST from September 8th to November 17th, 2018 and consisted of 11 entertaining episodes. Compared to Season 1, average ratings for Season 2 increased more than two folds. The fifth episode, aired on October 6th, 2018, recorded the highest rating with 5.35%.

Cast members of Season 2 were Chef Lee Yeon-bok, actor Kim Kang-woo, actress Seo Eun-soo, and comedian Heo Kyung-hwan. Chef Lee Yeon-bok is a well-acclaimed Chinese food Chef and operates several Chinese food restaurants. He has 46 years of experience as a Chinese food Chef and was considered a legend in Chinese food. Actor Kim Kang-woo, the sous-Chef, was responsible for making noodles and he strived to make the kitchen as clean as possible. Comedian Heo Kyung-hwan was the engine of the team. He was responsible for serving, cleaning, cooking, and managing payment. Cute actress, Seo Eun-soo became the face and fun-maker with her cute appearance and lovely smile. She was responsible for balancing the accounts.

4 Wheeled Restaurant Season 2 received very high ratings and was considered a hit program. Chef Lee Yeon-bok communicated well with his Chinese customers since he spoke Chinese like a native speaker. The focus of attention in Season 2 was directed at Chef Lee Yeon-bok and other cast members became his supporters and received less screen time. The casting for Season 2 was excellent and all members gave entertaining episodes. Due to the success of Season 2, the program’s popularity increased and another season was planned immediately.

Season 3 of 4 Wheeled Restaurant was aired from April 18th to July 4th, 2019, every Thursday at 11 p.m. KST. This time, the celebrity-Chef team traveled all the way to the USA. There were 12 episodes in Season 3. Ratings hit all-time highest at 5.42% for Episode 6.

Chef Lee Yeon-bok returned for Season 3 and was accompanied by Shinwa’s Erik, singer John Park, and Heo Kyung-hwan. Erik is part of the first generation of Korean idol turned to semi-professional Chef. He also appeared in another cooking-themed variety show, Three Meals A Day. Though he preferred making slow-food and was slightly slow in preparing the ingredient, he turned up a gear and paced when the team needed to hurry with the cooking. He was the pace-maker of the team.

Heo Kyung-hwan returned as hall manager and was responsible for making the fritters. John Park was the serving manager and customer service. He explained the menu to customers and treated them with free beverages. Disgraced singer, Jung Jun-yong was initially a cast member but he was expelled during the shooting when his scandal broke out. His appearance was edited out from the remaining episodes and he was replaced by Shinwa’s Lee Min-woo. Unfortunately, another sex scandal broke up and Lee Min-woo faced accusations of sexual molestation. Due to its members’ sex scandals, ratings dropped from around 4-5% to 2.9% in the last episode.

Youn’s Kitchen

Youn’s Kitchen is a cooking-themed variety show. Korean celebrities travel to beautiful places, mainly popular travel destinations and operate a Korean food restaurant. None of the celebrities is a Chef or experienced in cooking and preparing Korean food. Director Na Young-seok came up with the concept.

Young’s Kitchen Season 1 was aired every Friday at 9:50 p.m. KST from March 24th to May 19th, 2017. Cast members of Season 1 were actors and actresses of Korean dramas and movies. Restaurant owner and main Chef was senior actress Youn Yuh-jung. Other cast members were senior actor Shin-goo, Lee Seo-jin, and actress Jung Yu-mi. All 9 episodes were filmed at Gili Trawangan, a beautiful tropical beach located at Lombok Island, Indonesia. The location is globally renowned for its pristine water and beautiful scenery.

When Director Na Young-seok approached Youn Yuh-jung and told her about the program’s concept, she refused to participate because she had no experience with cooking throughout her life. When she found out about the main menu, bulgogi, she loved it and underwent intensive training. At first, she doubted Lee Seo-jin’s capabilities as a restaurant director but he gained her trust and proved himself capable of solving problems and coming up with popular new menus.

Koreans often think of Lee Seo-jin as director Na Young-seok’s persona in variety shows because he has appeared in the majority of director Na Young-seok’s programs. He was responsible as Youn’s Kitchen’s director and barista. Among cast members, he has the best English skills and is able to communicate with customers. When he was cast and asked for a preferred position in the team, Lee Seo-jin said that he wanted to be the director. In early episodes, the bulgogi menu failed to attract customers. He became obsessed with finding a favorite new menu and came up with noodles, fried chicken, and pancakes which attracted customers.

During the casting process, Jung Yu-mi was told that her role was to wash the dishes. On the set, she became the main Chef’s assistant and was responsible for preparing the ingredients. She looked for information about Youn Yuh-jung when she found out that she will work with the senior actress. She was industrious and expressive. When the restaurant’s first building collapsed, she fell down in tears. Foreigners praised her for her beautiful looks and friendly character.

Senior actor Sin-goo joined the cast from Episode 2. Cast members asked for an additional worker because each of them had a different role and they were short of hands. Director Na looked for an additional member and cast senior actor Sin-goo. At first, main Chef Youn Yuh-jung was surprised upon seeing Sin-goo because she expected a much younger helper. However, with years of experience, Sin-goo managed to do all the work calmly and perfectly. He enjoyed having conversations with customers and responded well to the customers. The funny thing was that customers thought of Lee Seo-jin and Sin-goo as a father and son.

The rating for the first episode was recorded as the highest ever first episode from all of director Na’s variety show programs. The second episode’s rating jumped from 6.3% to 9.6%. Due to the surge in rating, viewers expected the program to be a huge success. The rating for Episode 3 peaked at 11.3%, much higher than the ratings of public TV programs at the same airing time. The highest rating for Yoon’s Restaurant was recorded on Episode 6, peaking at 14.1%. The highest rating ever recorded for cable TV variety program was Three Meals A Day, Fishing Village episode which recorded a 14.2% viewers rating.

Following the huge success of Season 1, Youn’s Kitchen Season 2 was filmed at the scenic city of Tenerife Island, Canary Islands, Spain. Season 2 was aired at 9:45 p.m. on Fridays from January 5th to March 23rd, 2018. New cast member, actor Park Seo-jun was included while senior actor Sin-goo decided to pass the filming because of conflicting schedules.

Park Seo-jun was given the task of serving the food. His handsome looks and charismatic character made him the viewers’ favorite character. He communicated well with customers and willingly shared time for photos and small chats.

Rating for Season 2 started extremely well, reaching 14.0% in Episode 1. The rating for Episode 5 reached 16%, the highest rating ever compared to all tvN’s variety programs. The average rating for Season 2 was 13.6%. The lowest rating for Season 2 was in Episode 5, peaking only at 8.4%. At the time, 46% of the viewers watched the Korean national team participating in the semifinal game of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Woman’s Curling Competition.

Yoon’s restaurant faced criticism from viewers for the members’ lack of attention in cleanliness. Viewers noted that the main Chef used gloves when cooking the dishes but she didn’t remove the gloves when waiting for food orders. Jung Yu-min was also criticized for tying her hair when wearing gloves. In Season 2, Lee Seo-jin was criticized because he used non-formal language when addressing the customers.