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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.