26-year-old quits 'dream job' at Apple to help mum open Korean BBQ eatery at Tanjong Pagar

She was supporting her mother's 'lifetime dream' to open her own restaurant.

Zhangxin Zheng | November 21, 2021, 05:59 PM

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A 26-year-old Korean living in Singapore has opened an eatery with her mother this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision was not an easy one.

Not just because opening and sustaining a F&B shop is challenging due to Covid-19 restrictions, but 26-year-old Ryu Jiah also had to quit her "dream job" at Apple to do so.

Ryu took to TikTok to share about her story and their restaurant, Charim Korean BBQ.

Went viral on TikTok

To her pleasant surprise, the video went viral and many more customers had gotten to know about Charim and come to support.

@charimsg I am so grateful for your support last one month though 🥺 #story ♬ original sound - CHARIMsg

Speaking to Mothership earlier this month, Ryu shared that she had a surge of people coming to the eatery the day after the video went viral. She also expressed gratitude towards the support that she's received thus far.

"My mom and I really appreciate all the support and nice messages that we have been receiving in the last two days. When I posted the video, it was a particularly tough day for us as it was a first month of our operation to wrap up and the restriction of two pax has extended last week. It was really heartwarming to receive all the messages and encouragement.

We will always do our best to provide nice food and service to the customers. Thank you! 😊"

As of Nov. 20, the video has garnered over 350,000 views in less than a month.

@charimsgThank you so much. ❤️♬ Bubble - Official Sound Studio

Initial struggle

In her responses to Mothership, Ryu revealed more about the difficulties that she and her mother faced after they opened the shop in September.

She said:

"About a week after we open (Sep. 22), the government restricted the dining to two pax and the business was seriously affected. Every day from morning, we would prepare fresh food (side dish, sauces and vegetables) for our customers, there were times that we had to throw many of them [away] as there was no customer. The whole street was emptier, and I believe it is because people prefer to stay at home due to Covid and prefer to eat BBQ with bigger group size."

While the crowd remained "thin" three weeks after opening, the mother and daughter expressed appreciation towards returning customers which had helped tide through till now.

Photo by Low Hong Liang, via Google Maps.

Photo courtesy of Ryu Jiah.

Quitting her dream job to fulfill mother's dream

Ryu said that she was working at Apple as an order fulfilment analyst for Apple products between February and September this year. Prior to that, she was working as a business analyst at Hewlett Packard Enterprise for two years.

Given this trajectory of her career, it may come as a surprise to some that the 26-year-old resigned from her role at Apple to open a Korean BBQ eatery.

However, Ryu's mother, who used to work as a cook, had a "lifetime dream" to open her own restaurant.

Being her mother's number one supporter, Ryu shared:

"She loves to create new sauces or her own recipe and she feels really happy when people enjoy her food with her own unique recipe and sauce!

We always had this plan to open her restaurant as I believe in her cooking skill and delicious recipe but a more detailed plan was started last year. However due to Covid, we had to postpone our plan. While planning it, we had good opportunity to start this year around May, so we decided to make our dream come true."

While Ryu's mother calls the shot in the kitchen, someone has to help operate and manage the shop front.

That's where Ryu comes in — she serves the customers in the hall, and manages the accounting and marketing side of the business. In addition, Ryu helps to order ingredients for the shop as her mother is not very fluent in English.

"Most importantly, we believe that the owner's presence is really important to ensure the service level of the restaurant," she adds.

About Charim Korean BBQ

Besides Korean BBQ, the shop also has other classic Korean food such as Korean Army Stew (S$42), Kimchi Fried Rice (S$16), Bibimbap (S$18), and Sondubu Seafood Stew (S$16).

They also have do-it-yourself sushis which you can match with a meat of your choice.

via Charim Korean BBQ/Facebook.

via Charim Korean BBQ/Facebook.

via Charim Korean BBQ/Facebook.

You can view the full menu here.

Address: 65 Tg Pagar Rd, Singapore 088486

Opening hours: From 11:30am till 12am daily (last order at 11pm)

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Top photo courtesy of Ryu Jiah, by Low Hong Liang/Google Maps, and Charim Korean BBQ/Facebook.