ZenKimchi food guide a surprise hit

The ZenKimchi Seoul Restaurant Expat Guide surprised even the author when it started placing at the top of travel categories on Amazon.com when it was released last month.

The independently published food guide was created by Joe McPherson, a food writer and consultant in Korea who recently worked on the Emmy-award-winning "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain."

The book includes brief sections on more than 400 restaurants, wine bars, makgeolli houses and other places to eat and drink in the city.

"I've been wanting to make something like this for years, but the problem was keeping it updated. This is such a vast city with a high restaurant turnover it's just impossible for a one man army to keep track of everything," said McPherson.

But about a year ago he set up social networking groups for people to share tips and reviews on restaurants. These were more popular than he had expected, but the downside was that new people tended to have the same questions.

"I was worried about the conversations becoming repetitive. There were so many new people who kept asking the same questions over and over again, so I thought about making a guide," he said,

He plans to keep it relevant by following up on tips on the sites and updating the book regularly. He will send notifications to readers to let them know when they can request a free update.

One area he is particularly keen to expand on is the guide's coverage of Korean food, although this may be because expats tend to be keener to share information about authentic food from home, and this, in turn, might be a strength of the books' sources.

"Other guidebooks showcase restaurants that bureaucrats want to show off, but the Restaurant Expat Guide presents the restaurants that visitors like the best," said McPherson.

The restaurants are covered in a minimalist style, listed alphabetically with simple guides to the price and quality and brief reviews from people living in the city. There are also links to Google Maps so people reading the book on a Kindle app can find the location of each restaurant.

The ZenKimchi Seoul Restaurant Expat Guide is available in print and ebook formats on Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com.