Vancouver restaurant serves up non-lethal Squid Game-themed menu for Halloween

Vancouver’s Sai Woo restaurant is turning up the heat with a menu for Halloween based on Squid Game, the hit Netflix show from South Korea.

Head chef Han Seung-min, a first-generation Korean-Canadian, will be orchestrating the night in costume as the “Front Man”: the mysterious masked villain from the show.

Seung-min, who binge-watched the show like many others, says it reminded him of when he used to play games like the Squid Game as a child. 

“We played all day and until dark or until we were so exhausted,” he said, referring to the game where teams play in a squid-shaped course.

In gganbu, guests place wagers on whether their opponent is holding an odd or even number of marbles, then make a guess. The person who takes their opponent’s marbles at the end of the game wins. (Ben Nelms)

Seung-min says his menu will feature modern and traditional takes on Korean food, like rice cakes skewered with cheese and a honey-butter sauce; squid sausage; a kalbi beef pasta and a Korean school lunchbox (a nod to a scene in the series), among others.

In between courses, he says, guests will have the chance to play children’s games featured in the show.

There’s ppopgi: where players try to cut out a shape from a hard piece of dalgona candy; gganbu: where players make wagers and guess how many marbles their opponent is holding; and ddakji: a game with two tiles where each player tries to flip their opponent’s tile by slamming them on the ground. 

The lunchbox Chef Han Seung-min will serve at Sai Woo’s Squid Game nights dinner for Halloween is a nod to a scene in the show. (Ben Nelms)

But beyond the show-themed costumes, masks and games, Seung-min says it’s more than just a Halloween party. The food and games are a celebration of his Korean heritage.

“Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t imagine Korean culture [becoming] this big thing it’s become,” he said.

“And also I can see there’s a lot of demand by Vancouver people who are craving for Korean food too. As a Korean, I’m really happy about it, to see this, and I’m still looking forward to seeing these things getting bigger and bigger.”

In ddakji, guests have to cut out a shape from a hard piece of dalgona candy without cracking it. Winners will receive a prize and unlike the show, the losers will go on eating their dinner. (Ben Nelms)

Just because the games aren’t lethal, as in the show, doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive.

An undisclosed prize will be given to the diner who can beat Chef Han at a game of ddakji at the end of the night.

“I’m practising now,” said Seung-min. “I used to be good [at it].”

Korean-Canadian chef Han Seung-min will be orchestrating the night both from the shadows of the kitchen, to the restaurant floor in his ‘Front Man’ mask. (Ben Nelms/Sai Woo Restaurant)

Unlike the games in the show, guests won’t be put to sleep and driven in a nondescript vehicle to the restaurant. 

Parties will have to make reservations for seating in advance, starting Thursday evening, up until the evening of Oct. 31.

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