Get Better Acquainted With tvN’s ‘Kang’s Kitchen’, a Spin-Off of tvN’s ‘New Journey to the West’

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A Spin-Off of Producer Na Young-seok’s Flagship Variety Show

In recent years, tvN has been pumping out innovative and exciting new variety show projects left and right, which has been slowly gaining traction for its interesting subject matter and fresh new presentation. From traveling with the elderly halfway across the world in Grandpas Over Flowers, to cooking with your own freshly grown produce in Three Meals a Day, all of the programs have been consistently rated high and surpassed viewers’ expectations. Yet one stands out as the beacon of tvN’s variety programming and that is the variety show, New Journey to The West.

Spearheaded by revolutionary producer, Na Young-seok, who is at the helm of all the programming mentioned above, as well as the legendary variety show, 2 Days 1 Night, comes a variety show looking to reunite the original 2 Days 1 Night cast under a program inspired by the iconic Chinese epic novel Journey to The West, in which they travel to China and go through various challenges and missions in order to collect dragon balls. Throughout filming the show, the cast members, such as Kang Ho-dong, Lee Soo-geun, Eun Ji-won, Ahn Jae-hyun, and Song Mino had expressed their desires for starring in other projects headed by Na Young-seok, especially ones revolving around food and cooking, with one particular project coming to mind, titled Youn’s Kitchen.

What started out as a joke behind the scenes, has become one of the shows biggest running jokes, with Song Mino even submitting his wish to star in Youth Over Flowers with his group members as the wish that will be granted if they managed to collect all the dragon balls. Unexpectedly, by the fourth season, that is exactly what happened. Not only that, in one of the missions early on in the season, the writers’ team put in luxury items on the prize list as a joke, yet the cast managed to score these prizes and the production team had to scour to find a solution. In exchange for the prizes, Na Young-seok PD promised to give them dragon balls and fulfill their other wishes, thus taking on this spin-off project that had been proposed by the cast. Are you curious as to how it turned out? Well, wait no more as we dive deep into Kang’s Kitchen and it’s two seasons!

About tvN’s Kang’s Kitchen

Kang’s Kitchen is a spin-off variety program of the famous New Journey to The West series, inspired by another variety show, Youn’s Kitchen. It all started due to the fact that on the program New Journey to The West, Na Young-seok PD creates challenges and missions that the cast members are supposed to complete in order to have their meal, mostly resulting in failures and the cast eating the bare minimum. This caused the cast to joke around about the unfair treatment they have to face as Na Young-seok PD has many other variety shows centered around the theme of food, such as Three Meals a Day and Youn’s Kitchen. They playfully taunted the producer by proposing the idea of opening their own restaurant, headed by Kang Ho-dong, such that is found in Youn’s Kitchen.

This idea came into fruition after the fourth season of New Journey to The West, after the members were tasked to do a relay of activities, while wearing a carton cylinder around their arms, in order to win the chance of winning prizes. What’s unique about the prize picking system is that it all rests on the hands of Song Mino, quite literally. If the rest of the cast members are able to do the relay in under 100 seconds, than Mino gets to spin in circles 15 times and use his fingers, dipped in ink, to stamp his fingerprint in the prize of his choice. After three trials of the relay, the group succeeded and it was on to Mino’s turn.

Before Mino proceeded, the group took a peek at the poster with all the prizes hung up on the wall, and by chance stumbled upon luxurious prizes, such as a Lamborghini, a Porsche, a round-trip airplane ticket and more. As a joke, the cast taunted Na Young-seok PD, asking him what will he do if Mino managed to land on those particular prizes, and with confidence, he answered that it wasn’t possible as the production team has put the game on trial before and has not managed to land on those impossible prizes. He then promised to fulfill whatever it is Mino managed to land his finger on. To everyone’s surprise, Mino not only managed to land on the Lamborghini on his first try, but by his second try, managed to land on the Porsche as well, sending the production team into panic.

Na Young-seok PD called for an emergency meeting in order to figure out what to do, as he had promised to deliver with all the prizes confidently, as he thought there was no way they would land on a luxurious prize. After a brief discussion, the production team decided to give away dragon balls instead and will fulfill a wish in the near future. Unexpectedly, Na Young-seok PD decided to fulfill the cast’s wishes of doing a variety show centered around the theme of food, creating the spin-off, Kang’s Kitchen. The concept of the show is relatively similar to the original its modeled off of, Youn’s Kitchen, in which the cast members run a restaurant and try to make a profit. Unlike the original, Kang’s Kitchen will be done in locations around South Korea but still, the main focus would be on Korean cuisine.

Cast Members

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  • Kang Ho-dong: Head chef and CEO

Regarded as the general manager and boss of the establishment, Kang Ho-dong is usually in charge of the restaurant’s concept and is the chef of the main dish.

  • Eun Ji-won: Hall manager, Drinks and Desserts Chef, Cashier

Eun Ji-won is a multitasker, between taking orders from the newly arrived guests, serving the food and drinks, creating the dessert as well as managing the counter when the customers leave.

  • Lee Soo-geun: Waiter and Kitchen Assistant

Aside from Eun Ji-won, Lee Soo-geun can also be regarded as a multitasker, the ultimate multitasker that is. Unlike Eun Ji-won, who mostly mans the front of the restaurant, Lee Soo-geun is able to both help out in the kitchen as well as the hall, as a waiter, kitchen assistant, handyman, errand runner, driver, babysitter and more!

  • Ahn Jae-hyun: Sous Chef

Ahn Jae-hyun is mostly in charge of the secondary dish, usually an appetizer or a dish that can be shared amongst the customers.

  • Song Mino: Desserts Chef

Previously, a part-time worker in the first season, he has been upgraded to the status of dessert chef, while still sometimes helping out in the kitchen.

  • P.O: Kitchen Assistant

Taking on Song Mino’s previous spot, we have P.O, who has also recently been in charge of a secondary dish in the restaurant.

  • Cho Kyu-hyun: –

His appearance has still not aired yet.

  • Na Young-seok: a Slave

During the first season, Song Mino had to leave early due to his schedule with Winner, thus for that day, Na Young-seok PD assumed his role and helps out in the kitchen.

Season 1: The Beginning in Jeju

The first season of Kang’s Kitchen is set to be in Jeju, with the theme of Korean-Japanese dishes, such as Donkatsu and Omurice. The theme is inspired by Kang Ho-dong’s love for Donkatsu and his desire to make a Donkatsu dish like none other.

In the quest to run this restaurant, the cast had to go to legendary chef Baek Jong-won for advice on their menu and recipe. Not only that, the chef taught them personally the recipe he has made for the restaurant based on that idea. From that, Kang Hodong-katsu was finally born. Unlike other donkatsus out there, the size of this donkatsu is just massive and with the appropriate thickness to make the ratio of the crispy skin and the soft insides perfect. It is all topped with the signature donkatsu gravy sauce and with a side of coleslaw.

After struggling for many nights to pound down the Kang Hodong-katsu to size as well as Eun Ji-won noticing that most of the customers need a smaller portion of the dish, the cast decided to create a kids meal sized donkatsu, named Lee Soo-geun katsu. The name is inspired by Lee Soo-geun’s height, which has been a point of contention in some of his jokes throughout the years.

Other than the donkatsu dishes, there was another dish that stole the customers’ hearts, and that is Ahn Jae-hyun’s omurice. Different from the omurice that we know, Ahn Jae-hyun plays on plating and the serving of the egg to create a new and exciting way to consume the dish. Not only that, but he also makes use of the donkastu gravy sauce to create a deeper flavor profile and upgrades the dish.