Mies Container restaurant: A tasty, trendy Hooters for women
Koreans aren't exactly famous for their patience.
In fact "palli palli" -- meaning "hurry the hell up" -- is probably one of the first phrases most foreigners come across when they get to Korea.
So when I first heard rumors of Koreans standing in endless lines outside a new Seoul restaurant, I had to go find out why.
'Hot Guy Paradise'
Standing in line outside Mies Container, Gangnam's hottest and perhaps most oddly named new restaurant, I couldn't help marveling.
Around nine out of ten of the customers queuing around the building were young women in their 20s.
When a good-looking young waiter with a hip-hop scarf tied around on his head appeared and called out in a booming voice that a table for five was available, I began to understand why so many women were waiting in line.
And indeed, most of the rumors about Mies Container are about the restaurant's young, hot, male waiters and the "macho" atmosphere, which has proven to be a hit with the impatient young Seoulites who would never wait the 30 minutes in line anywhere else.
Pass my helmet please
When you walk in, the first thing that catches the eye is the open loft structure and the cool factory-like interior design, which won the Reddot Design Award -- one of the world's three biggest design awards -- this past October.
The next thing you see is macho slogan of "wipe and tighten and oil!" lettered on the wall in Korean.
After being led to a table, everything else is pretty much self-service. My party ordered a salad pasta (₩12,500), a spicy seafood spaghetti (₩10,500), french fries (₩5000), bacon potato pizza (₩12,000) and drinks. Almost every dish on the menu is in the ₩10,000-₩20,000 range and the servings are plentiful.
The most hilarious part? How overtly friendly the waiters are to the female customers when they go up to the counter to order.
"You have excellent taste in picking from the menu," gushed one waiter while handing over a numbered construction helmet. The customer then promptly donned the hat and happily took photos.
The wall next to the cashier is papered with napkins where customers have jotted little notes about their visit. "Dear hot waiter, please marry me!" reads one.
There are also a few entries that might have caused lawsuits if men had addressed them to waitresses.
Given how so many customers express flirty interest in the wait staff, calling Mies Container a "Hooters for women" would not be an exaggeration.
But it seems the reason why Mies Container is proving to be so popular is because it truly does offer up the undisputed best in every category -- price, taste, serving size, atmosphere and service -- in the entire Gangnam area, especially since it is so difficult these days to find a place that has a satisfying menu at an affordable price range.
CNNGo: The concept for Mies Container seems quite original. How was it conceived?
Mies Container: Mies Container is an industrial-style fusion restaurant that only employs male staff. By simulating the concept and design system of a male-only working space of a construction site, and showing a very masculine enthusiasm and passion we wanted to appeal to young women who comprise an important consumer base.
CNNGo: What is the meaning behind the name?
Mies Container: Ten years ago when we first started this business, we had a partnership with a barbecue company called Mies. We carried the name over when we started the restaurant.
CNNGo: They say that it's a Hooters for women …
Mies Container: We don't discriminately hire staff based on their looks but we are focusing on hiring those with energy and masculinity. We agree to some extent about the comparison to Hooters. But we exhibit higher quality dishes, friendlier service and trendier design.
CNNGo: Is there a reason why there is no official website?
Mies Container: We're more interested in viral marketing. Even if we don't publicize, those who've experienced Mies Container go back and write out it on their blogs or tell other people and do a better job of marketing Mies Container than we could.
Seocho-gu, Seocho-dong 1316-29 (서초구 서초동 1316-29); +82 2 536 5786; Sunday-Monday: 11 a.m.-midnight, Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
www.mies-container.com contains information about the design award, not the restaurant.