The excitement has been brewing for a couple of months and in just a few weeks, Malaysia’s first YG Republique outlet will open its doors to the public in TREC Kuala Lumpur!
Fans have been waiting with bated breaths since they first heard that the YG Entertainment-owned F&B joint will be making its way to our shores, so we took the liberty to speak to the driving forces behind YG Republique TREC Kuala Lumpur, Miss Sainy Chun and CEO of YG Foods Miss Noh Hee Young.
Welcome to Malaysia, Miss Noh! Let’s talk about YG Foods. YG Entertainment is such a powerhouse that it’s recognised globally. Why did YG Entertainment decide to venture into F&B?
Miss Noh: Many big conglomerate companies from all over the world have been wanting to work with YG Entertainment. Because K-Pop is so popular, right? But because YG Entertainment is an entertainment company, there was nothing really that you could do with YG Entertainment except for maybe working with their artistes. That’s why President Yang Hyun Suk (양현석) said that he had to do something. When I was with my previous company, CJ Group, my job scope includes hangling the channels, the concerts, as well as the artistes. So I was very close to the entertainment companies. President Yang and I are good friends so when I left CJ Group, we thought about what we can work on together. In the end, we decided to build some venues with the YG atmosphere like a YG experience centre. So YG Foods came along, to do YG Republique.
Why did YG Foods choose Kuala Lumpur (after Bangkok) to open their next YG Republique outlet?
Miss Noh: Our expansion plans started with Anaheim in the US, but it’s not complete yet. The second one was Bangkok, and then Japan, but we’re still looking for a site for Japan and we’ll decide on that by this month. The most interesting story was China because YG Entertainment is such a popular brand is China. But there were so many partners who sought us out that I had a meeting with one company a week every week. We were so confused because we needed to find a company who can run the restaurant or entertainment-based. We chose Kuala Lumpur because personally, I am fond of Sainy, she has experience. We weren’t looking for a wealthy partner to work with, our priority has always been about finding someone who can run the business properly.
Because there are so many YG Republique outlets globally, how different the TREC Kuala Lumpur outlet will be it from the other outlets?
Miss Noh: So, because the YG Republique TREC Kuala Lumpur outlet is located in a club area that’s quite similar to Hongdae (known for its urban arts and indie music culture, clubs and entertainment), my plan is to make it like a place with the Hongdae feel and the urban vibe. In that sense the Kuala Lumpur outlet will be quite different from the other YG Republique outlets.
Miss Sainy: Although the YG Republique outlets in South Korea carry the same name, each location is distinctively different from the other. The Myeongdong (Seoul’s commercial area and one of the city’s main shopping and tourism districts) outlet is very nicely done but it’s targeted for more high-end, corporate guest. Hongdae’s outlet is more young and urban.
Miss Noh: A very street look. I think it’ll be suitable for the YG Republique in TREC Kuala Lumpur.
From what I’ve seen, interior design plays a bit part in the other outlets. Tell us a little bit about what went on behind the scenes of deciding on the interior design for YG Republique in TREC Kuala Lumpur.
Miss Noh: My intention is to build and create a venue that doesn’t look “new” new per se, but more vintage. It’s like fashion. These days, if somebody wears an outfit, if you indicate the brand, it’s not considered “stylish”. Stylish people have insights in fashion and don’t go for brands specifically. So I want to give YG Republique that kind of look. More natural, not new, and more comfortable. If everything is new or looks new, and costs a lot, it doesn’t represent YG. I’m looking at using lots of raw material for the interior. Brand identity is important.
Miss Sainy: For YG Republique in Kuala Lumpur, Miss Noh has said that she wants to use very natural-looking material. Even the metal used for the interior has a very unfinished and unpolished look.
What can you tell us about the YG Republique menu?
Miss Noh: The core reason why we decided to put pork in the menu it’s because if we want to expand our brand to other countries, if we make the recipes too complex, it can’t be done. My philosophy for the food and the menu, the most important thing is the ingredients. Raw material. It’s more honest. I apologise to the Malaysians who can’t eat pork or dine in a non-halal venue, but “samgyeopsal” (thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat cooked on a grill) is a very unique way of eating pork. It’s uniquely Korean, and that’s why we decided to put that on the menu. YG Entertainment people like President Yang and G-Dragon, they love “samgyeopsal”. We also have a special recipe sauce with garlic!
Miss Sainy: We even found the best pork for YG Republique. YG Republique in TREC Kuala Lumpur will only use Iberico (black pig) pork. The best quality pork.
Last but not least, Can you give any hints on the YG Entertainment artistes that will be coming for the YG Republique launch in TREC Kuala Lumpur?
Miss Noh: We don’t know yet. Of course, I will try my best to bring the biggest YG Entertainment artistes to the YG Republique launch in Kuala Lumpur. I will try.