Food Cravings in 'Hotel Del Luna'

By Rūta Balžekaitė

Creating a buzz of excitement, Hotel Del Luna took the audience by storm. Delicately mysterious and elegant, the drama reels you in and makes you wonder what secrets will unfold one episode after another. Viewers get a taste of some action, horror, fantasy, romance and comedic elements, but the most mouthwatering scenes are the main characters’ meals together. 

One of the characters is the CEO of the hotel, Jang Man Wol (장만월), played by singer and actress IU. She has been in big projects like Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo and Persona (available on Netflix). Another character is Gu Chan Seong (구찬성), played by Hwayi: A Monster Boy and My Absolute Boyfriend's Yeo Jin-goo. They are very talented, creating a good atmosphere as their characters have lunch. Let’s take a look at some of the meals they were feasting on!

  • Steamed Buns and Dumplings

In the first episode, Man Wol is trying to recruit Chang Seong to work as a manager in Hotel Del Luna, but because he is scared of ghosts, it turns out to be harder than it seems. She takes him to a restaurant for some hot steamed buns and dumplings, which she generally calls mandu (만두). She also points out that The Guys Who Died After Eating was filmed there, so Chan Seong should eat while he’s still alive. To be fair, the dumplings look delicious! They could be filled with sweet red beans, vegetables, meat and other ingredients, so they should be eaten while they’re hot!

  • Red Bean Porridge and Rice Cakes? 

The answer is YES! A delicious, sweet and filling meal perfect for… tigers? In Episode Two, the duo is searching for the spirit of Baekdu tiger, and while Chan Seong is surprised to be in the restaurant, Man Wol insists that red bean porridge is the tiger's favorite food, which could possibly help them. Even though the truth of the special tiger’s tastes is uncertain, red bean porridge was believed to ward off malevolent spirits and prevent bad luck. Together with some squishy and soft rice cakes, red bean porridge is a great meal to fill your energy and your stomach.

  • Pizza and Pasta

We get a glimpse of Man Wol eating in Chan Song’s friend’s pizza place for the first time in Episode Four. The restaurant is called Pizza Alvolo, and it has many cheesy and very appetizing pizza toppings to choose from. The hotel owner seemed eager to try two dishes, one of which seemed to be steaming hot spaghetti buried in melted cheese and bright red sauce. As a known foodie she also orders a cheesy pizza for Chan Seong, but unfortunately, he had to skip that meal to engage in a ghost chase. Spooky!

  • Hangover Soup

Being a fan of Kim Joon Hyun from The Guys Who Died After Eating, Man Wol was very excited when she heard that he is close by, filming yet another episode for the show. Unfortunately, she and Chan Seong were too late, so instead they sat at the table where he was eating and ordered some Korean hangover soup haejang-guk (해장국). The soup, as the name suggests, is known as a cure for a hangover. Hot, savory, with tasty vegetables and meat in a hearty beef broth, it is a delicious and warm meal that can lift up your spirits!

  • Ssam!

In Episode Ten, the two have some ssam (쌈) for lunch. Ssam means “wrapped,” which in Korean cuisine is usually leafy vegetables wrapped around a piece of meat and often accompanied by a condiment called ssamjang (쌈장). Ssam is usually bite-sized, but Chan Seong wanted to challenge himself and prove to Man Wol that just like her favorite celebrity, he too could make a big ssam and eat it in one bite. Before he could actually fit the big piece into his mouth, Man Wol admitted that she doesn’t watch Kim Joon Hyun’s shows anymore, so the meat and lettuce wraps remained uneaten (but hopefully, it was eaten off-camera).

  • How Many Rice Cakes Can You Fit in Your Mouth?

The scene in Episode Eleven is a happy one: both main characters are in a restaurant, smiling and competing on who can eat the most rice cakes in their tteokguk (떡국), sliced rice cake soup. It is a traditional Korean dish, usually eaten on New Year's Day. It is believed to grant good luck for the year, and whoever eats it gains one year of age. Chan Seong wants to talk to Man Wol more casually, so he offers a deal: for each eaten rice cake, he gets 100 years closer to her age. She playfully accepts the challenge, as she has been existing for over a thousand years. The two start quickly consuming the small round rice cakes while laughing, which ends the scene with Paul Kim singing the lovely song, “So Long” (“안녕”).

Actors Lee Ji-eun (이지은) and Yeo Jin-goo (여진구) have performed greatly and portrayed truly memorable characters in this unique story. One of the wonderful details was the food integrated in the storytelling. It didn’t feel forced, every meal the characters had seemed to go with the flow of the story, sometimes giving the audience a pause to relax and giving us something to look forward to—perhaps an inspiration for tomorrow’s lunch? Would you like to try the food on Hotel Del Luna’s menu? Share with us in the comments below!

Cover Image: Hotel Del Luna
Written by Ruta Balzekaite

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