I’m not crazy about chain restaurants wherever I am in the world but visiting the first store of a mega franchaise is always fascinating. You get to see how the big names first kicked off from the ground without knowing that they will one day become leading brand. In addition, you get to learn the business secrets that powered the rapid growth. In Daejeon, there is a head restaurant of a Korean-Chinese spicy noodle brand that gained national fame by opening more than hundred chains across Korea within mere five years of starting their first store. What could be their key to success?

Spicy noodle soup at the first Ebiga store in Daejeon

Ebiga is a Korean-style Chinese restaurant chain that quickly became famous with their unique recipe for jjamppong(짬뽕), or spicy seafood noodle soup. Jjamppong is a Korean version of Chinese spicy noodle soup. Ebiga used chicken and herbs in their beef bone broth that suited traditional Korean taste and eventually earned them patent for their signature soup. There are four different kinds of jjamppong on the menu. There is a non-spicy option as well.

Ever heard of seaweed fulvescens noodle soup?

Normally, jjamppong is made with stir-fried veggies and seafood. The broth gets its kick and bright red colour from spicy chilly powder. But recently, so-called white jjampong became popular. Even with the absence of chilly powder, the broth is still kept spicy with the addition of whole chillies. Being a jjamppong lover, these are the recipes that I am already familiar of. However, the non-spicy jjamppong at Ebiga was something new for me. It was made with  seaweed fulvescens(매생이), a very fine marine plant that resembles long, straight angel hair.

This was a great option as my father, unlike rest of the family members, could not enjoy spicy food so much. With the generous amount of marine algae, the soup has strong flavour of ocean which all of us favoured. The four of us tried four different flavours of Ebiga noodles and each of them had different flavour although they used same broth base. It was difficult for me to pick a favourite as each of them had their own strength. In the end, the greatest secret of a successful chain could may be just simple, fundamental attitude of offering good, tasty food and service to people all over the country.