A Seoul Day in Los Angeles

 Are we in Seoul or LA? 

Are we in Seoul or LA? 

Traces of cities in other cities

Sometimes when I’m walking around the city, suddenly it will feel like I’ve been transported to a different cities. These moments usually happen when a certain scent floats under my nose, a particular architectural design catches my eye, or when the weather suddenly changes. These are all potential triggers that make me feel like I’m suddenly somewhere else. I like to think these moments happen when I’ve been missing a city a little bit too much. However, I think finding certain elements from certain cities in a different country is quite common, especially with all the globalization that has been happening.

For example, some people have said that Vancouver can also called “ Hongcouver”. It’s not hard to see why when there are various Hong Kong chain stores operating here as well as all the delicious Chinese food. While we get to visit Hong Kong occasionally, we always like to spend more time there. Thankfully for us, having these local Hong Kong chain stores here in Vancouver allows us to slip into one of their shops and pretend, even for a moment, that we are in Hong Kong.

What Vancouver is like to many Hong Kong people, Los Angeles is the equivalent for many South Koreans. During our university days, we met a lot of good Korean friends and we have also gotten to know the “Seoul scene” in L.A. Over the years, we fell in love with Seoul as a city and all that it has to offer. While we didn’t get a chance to travel to Seoul this year, we thought it would be fun to have a day in L.A. as if we were in Seoul. There were so many things to choose from, but we have chosen places that we found in LA that could also be found in Seoul. So join us as we take you on a seoul day of food and relaxation in L.A.

Finding Seoul in Los Angeles

Paris Baguette

Starting with breakfast, we stopped over at one of the most popular bakery chains from Seoul -Paris Baguette. Opened in 1988 with a focus on French inspired creations, they now have over 3,000 locations worldwide. Stepping into one of their locations in L.A is like being in a bakery cafe in Korea. From the Korean speaking staff to the decor and food, I felt like I was back in Seoul buying a coffee before I began my day of sightseeing.

This bakery is French inspired, but they still have a lot of goods that are very Korean or Asian in taste. They have red bean buns, peanut bread, and my favorite of all, the sweet potato cake. I didn’t get a chance to have the sweet potato cake this time, but if you’re ever at a Paris Baguette and you like sweet potatoes, I highly recommend trying it.

CGV Movie Theatre

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Movie Theatres seem to be quite similar from country to country and it's not often that you see a brand of movie theatre taking root in a different country. But with CGV’s style of movie theatre, I wish they will start a location in Vancouver. This particular CGV location is in the newly built complex called  “The Source”. From the complex itself, to the outside of the movie theatre, it felt like it should be somewhere in the middle of Seoul rather than in LA.

At CGV, not only do they have special flavored popcorn and reserved seating, it is their kind of seats that puts them in a class of their own. Instead of the usual movie theatre seats, at CGV, every seat has a foot rest and can be reclined to your desired height. There is cup holder for your drink, a tray table for food, and plenty of space between the rows so that you can be sure the person behind you won’t be kicking the back of your seat. CGV is definitely one of the best movie theatres to have a date as the seats are all grouped in sets of two with a table between each group to ensure more privacy and comfort.

Jjimjilbangs

If watching a movie isn’t really the kind of relaxing activities you enjoy doing, there is also the ever famous jjimjilbang. For those that are unfamiliar to what a jjimjilbang is, it is a Korean style public bathhouse with communal as well as gender specific areas, that is a popular getaway for family and sometimes friends. At the jjimjilbang, there are multiple rooms, heated to various temperature, for you to relax and enjoy. From a room covered entirely in salt to a very cold ice room, it’s the perfect place to relieve your muscles and relax.

There is also a restaurant within the jjimjilbang where you can get food or drinks if you want. There are various jjimjilbang available around Los Angeles, but we decided to visit one in the Orange County. Compared to the ones in Korea Town, this one had fewer foreigners and almost all the customers were Korean.

Cafe Bora

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In Seoul, there are endless options for cafes depending on what you are looking for. There are dog cafes, internet cafes, and even racoon cafes. However, one of the most common kind of cafes are dessert cafes. After watching a movie and relaxing at the jjimjilbang, it was time for us to grab a dessert.  We went to an Instagram worthy cafe for some delicious purple coloured dessert.

This place, aptly named Bora (Purple in Korean), has already made a name for itself in Seoul before opening a location in LA and other places in the world. From the ice cream to shaved ice, their signature desserts are all made with purple sweet potato to give it that stunning colour and unique taste. Not only were their desserts a must try, we also love their clean and minimalistic decor.

Baekjong

Now a day in Seoul wouldn’t be complete without a meal of the well known Korean bbq. There are so many korean bbq places to choose from in LA and each has their unique touch on it. Some are more of a fusion place, others pride themselves in having the best all you can eat selection. But since we are doing a Seoul day in LA, what better place to have Korean bbq than a place that is owned by a famous South Korean tv host and comedian.

Like the other places we have visited, this is a well loved chain that has a few location both in Seoul and in LA. But don’t be mistaken that this is just a restaurant that is popular due to the star’s fame, they do carry out a very delicious and authentic korean bbq experience. This also happens to be one of our favourite korean bbq places because they have good cuts of meat, attentive service, and best of all, their setting and decor is like the ones you will find in Seoul. This is definitely one of the the best ways to end off a day in Seoul.

Our LA Getaway

Work and life is often so busy and time is a precious commodity. While we like to travel, sometimes we only have time for a mini getaway to somewhere close to Vancouver, like LA, so we don’t have to deal with a long flight or jet lag. While I know spending a day in LA and doing things we might be doing in Seoul is not exactly the same as going to Korea, it’s nice to know that when we are really craving for some Seoul atmosphere and Korean food, we have a closer place to go to instead of flying half way around the world.

Note:  All photographs, unless specified are captured by Honour and Blessing Events.

Top 5 Must Visit Cafes in Los Angeles

Signage-with-different-place-names-at-LAX

Lights… Camera… Coffee... in Los Angeles!

Whenever the word  “Los Angeles” comes up, what is the first thing that pops in your mind? Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is Hollywood, with palm trees and sunny weather coming close after it. For many people, Los Angeles or LA as some like to call it, is one of the iconic cities in America, a travel destination, the home to many internationally known actors and actresses, and of course, Disneyland. For us, LA is all of these things and a little bit more.

Los Angeles holds a special place in our hearts and it is where we consider our "third home." We spent a few years here completing our undergraduate studies and met people who are now close and important friends in our lives. We always look forward for the chance to come back and visit, not only to see our friends but also to discover new and interesting places.

When we were still living in LA, our love for coffee shops and cafes was not as strong as it is now. Perhaps we were too busy working on our assignments or hanging out with our friends that we didn’t find it particularly fun to spend time at a cafe. Now that we’re a little older, we love visiting coffee shops wherever we are. Although Los Angeles may often be shadowed by the artisanal and fancy coffee that San Francisco is known for, we have found a few of our favourites in this City of Angels. We have shared some of our favourite coffee shops in Vancouver and Hong Kong, and this time we want to share our favourites from LA with you.

Unlike Vancouver and Hong Kong where you can get to most places with public transportation, LA is not quite the same. Public transportation is available, but the best way to get around is definitely by car. With a city as big as Los Angeles, there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of cafes all over. There were so many cafes and coffee shops that we wanted to try, but we decided to visit a few that we were interested in. With the exception of the first cafe on our list, we decided to focus on the cafes near the LA downtown area.

Our Top 5 Must Visit Cafes

1.  In-sit

In-sit-coffee-white-wall-with-deco

Located at the newly built “The Source” in Buena Park, is In-Sit Coffee. With marble top tables, clean white walls, contrasted by dark coloured chairs, we loved this cafe. There are plenty of seating options with a large communal table, smaller individual tables, and also a bartop area.

The morning we visited this cafe it was quite empty and the perfect place to begin our day with a glass of cold brew coffee and a sweet cookie to munch on. We didn’t bring our laptops with us, but we think this is the perfect place to get some work done or to meet up with people for coffee and good conversations.

2.  Verve

Entrance-to-verve-coffee

Verve Coffee Roaster is a well known company that has locations all over the world. With 3 locations in Los Angeles, we decided to go to the one on 3rd street. Verve on 3rd street has more of a hipster and industrial chic vibe to their decor. With concrete floors, but plenty of polished wood and gleaming gold metal touches, they did a wonderful job contrasting the different materials and textures.

Staying true to their name and focus as a coffee roaster, they have placed the coffee and tea brewing station in the centre of their store. In addition to coffee and tea, Verve also serves a very interesting mix of juices called a ‘Juice flight’. We didn’t have a chance to try it, but we have heard it is quite an acquired taste. It is important to note that unlike In-Sit Coffee, it was extremely hard to find a seat at this cafe and it was bustling during both times we visited this location.

3.  Alfred Tea Room

Alfred-tea-room-entrance

“But first, Coffee” is probably something that many people have seen on cups, t-shirts, and other things that people like to use to show their love or need for coffee. But these 3 short words is actually the slogan for the increasingly popular coffee shop “Alfred Coffee" and "Alfred Tea Room.” While there are multiple locations, we wanted to go to Alfred Tea Room.

At the Tea room, with pink walls, greenery hanging from the ceilings, and cute puns written on the walls, it’s not hard to understand why this place has been an Instagram favourite. While it is a small store with minimal seating outside, it is still the place to go to when you want to go somewhere pink and girly. If you are looking only for coffee, their coffee location is just down the street. But for us, we love the different tea options available here… Alfred Tea Room, “I love you so matcha.”

4.  Blue Bottle

Bird-eye-view-of-blue-bottle-cafe

Beginning in Oakland California, Blue Bottle Coffee started with the vow to deliver the taste of fresh coffee only using coffee beans that have been out of the roaster for less than 48 hours. Over the years they have garnered a large group of supporters and now have locations all over the world; with 12 in Los Angeles alone. So while we’re in LA, we can’t help but find a Blue Bottle Cafe and try it for ourselves.

We visited the location in Beverly Hills and we loved the split level design of the cafe. With a good amount of seating on the main floor, there is also a large communal table and additional seating on the upper floor. With plenty of white walls, minimal decor, and a high ceiling, this cafe was comfortable and gives off an airy feeling. And of course, the coffee they served was just as good as we imagined it to be.

5.  Dominique Ansel

Dominique-Ansel-LA-cake-display-case

While this is technically not a coffee shop, my love for desserts couldn’t help but make it a point to visit this place. Dominique Ansel is a renowned pastry chef that has shaken the world of desserts and have truly created a name for himself. Cronuts, cookie shots, blossoming hot chocolate… these are only a few of the creations from him that many people will happily line up for.

Dominique Ansel is located at the The Grove and has two levels- the upper level for the restaurant, lower level for the bakery and coffee. There are interesting designs and beautiful sitting areas throughout the bakery, but the true focus here is on the desserts themselves. We tried their cake and their infamous frozen s’mores and they were both perfectly made and the taste was impeccable. But not only are the sweets wonderful, they also make a wonderful cold brew coffee.

"But first, Coffee..."

These are a few of the coffee shops and cafes we visited during our recent visit to LA. While we only had time to focus on the coffee scene in a particular area, we love the different styles of cafes that were available. LA is indeed a city that has plenty of attractions and is never in lack of visitors and tourists. While many people come to see Hollywood, Disneyland, or perhaps the neverending beaches, we are here more for the people, our memories, and perhaps a visit or two to the coffee shops.

Note:  All photographs, unless specified are captured by Honour and Blessing Events.

Peace of Mind Portugal Coastal Wedding Inspiration - Behind the Scenes

We are absolutely thrilled to have this featured on Magnolia Rouge. We had so much fun doing this shoot that we wanted to share a glimpse of the process of that day. From the stunning atelier to the breathtaking beach, here is a short video of the behind the scenes of “Peace of Mind” photoshoot.

Planning and creating a photo shoot halfway across the world was so surreal and exhilarating.  Juggling different time zones, different languages, and planning for a place that we weren’t familiar with had it challenges. But as challenges in life help to mold and shape us, this too gave us the chance to grow and thrive in this new environment.

Peace-of-mind-studio-shoot-fixing-dress
 

Inspiration behind Peace of Mind

Peace-of-mind-porto-beach-photo-shoot

Photography:  Alexandra Vonk

As we were planning this shoot, we wanted to create something by the beautiful oceans of Portugal.  We understand that in the lives of those working in the wedding industry, things can get stressful, overwhelming, and difficult. Sometimes we long to escape to a quiet and tranquil place to let our thoughts flow. But we also understand that having a true peace of mind doesn't mean the absence of all things difficult or disruptive. It is quite the opposite; it is having a sense of calm and assurance despite all the chaos.

We wanted to create a shoot that will illustrate what we think is the meaning of peace of mind and having that peace amidst the storm. We decided to create an overarching sense of peace by using the colours blue and grey. We chose to use various elements in juxtaposition with one another, as it is between peace and storm. The raw edges on the invitations, stationery and the branches was used to bring out natural and unprocessed elements. While the polished shells, soft silk ribbons, and elegant chairs were used to bring a touch of understated elegance.

To bring the outdoors inside, we chose to use salt and free flowing cloth on the table setting, reminiscent of the ocean and its waves. In the flower arrangement, both fresh and dried flowers were used to create a contrast between their colours and textures. Fresh colours with soft textures in contrast to the deeper hues and brittle structures tied together with long grey and blue silk ribbons.

A greyish blue wedding dress was chosen as opposed to a white one to compliment the colours by the coastline and the beach. While it has a delicate and intricate beaded bodice, the skirt of the dress is simple and perfect in creating a sense of movement and flow. By the coast, we wanted to capture the warm sunlight against the rocks and on the sand. The golden rays in contrast with the dark rocks and the waves rolling towards the shore creates this calming yet majestic ambience that is like the challenges we face in our lives.

As the sun shines peacefully in the sky, the waves in the ocean crashes against the rocks and sand with their thunderous presence. What seemingly is destructive is in fact polishing and smoothing to create beautiful things. Likewise, in our lives, if we take the waves of challenges with grace and a true peace of mind, it will polish, shine and make us even brighter than before.

Peace-of-mind-rocky-beach-with-photographer

It was such a honour and blessing to have worked with Cristina and the rest of the team for this shoot. After months of planning and preparing for this shoot, it was so rewarding to see everything come together and create such a beautiful shoot.

Note:  All photographs, unless specified are captured by Honour and Blessing Events.