Alien's Day Out

January 8, 2014
by Mipa
14 Comments

Alien’s Day Out in Hong Kong: Part 1

HELLO HONG KONG!!!

So, I’m on a 1-week trip to HK~ It’s been over 1.5 years since I traveled outside of Korea (it’s a long time for a wanderluster like myself), and since my sister is currently living here, I figured it was a great opportunity to check out a new country/city where I can get free room and board. And since my mom hasn’t had the chance to travel much lately, she joined me, for a girls’ trip!

Prior to arriving, I didn’t have any expectations…. I didn’t even have any time to plan the trip, check out where to eat, what to do, or see. I literally only started looking into what to do once I arrived here. More than anything, I just wanted to get away from Seoul and Korea, to get some distance, perspective, and clarity. Perhaps HK isn’t the best place to go for a calm vacation, but it certainly is the place to eat, eat, shop, and eat some more. I can do without the shopping part, but I’m down with eating. I don’t have much desire to do a whole lot of touristy things, but so far, we’ve hit up the major touristy spots, just to be able to tick that off the list… I’m mainly looking forward to just hanging out at cafes, checking out various neighborhoods, shopping for fresh local fruit, etc.

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So here are some things we did on Day 1. First thing’s first: Victoria Peak! Although it was an overcast day, the view was still impressive. Seoul seems pretty flat in comparison to the high skyscrapers here in HK. I would love to check out the view at night too, if we have time by the end of the trip.

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Taxi ride~ weird having the driver on the other side. :)

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We also looked around Tsim Sha Tsui, and then went to Kung Tak Lam for Shanghai vegetarian cuisine. When you’re in HK, ofcourse you have to get some dim sum! As soon as we were seated, they poured us some hot jasmine tea and brought out the menus. After ticking off all the various items we wanted from their dim sum menu, they started us off with an ‘appetizer’ of peanuts, tofu, and cucumbers, marinated in a soy sauce dressing. We were so hungry that it didn’t last us very long. Good thing we didn’t have long to wait before the dim sum started to come out!

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Won ton soup. I really enjoyed the clean, refreshing flavors of the dumpling and soup. And the filling was so good too!

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More delicious dumplings, with chive filling.

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Savory Chinese pastries, stuffed with vegetarian sweet ‘pork’! I got pretty excited about these, since it had been so long since I had anything resembling a meat pasty~ plus, they were so adorable to look at. Though the filling was a tad sweeter than I was expecting, the pastry crust was delicately flaky and flavorful.

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Although we really enjoyed almost everything that came out, there were a few that I wasn’t too fond of. The steamed veggie shrimp dumplings…. the pouch was a bit too starchy and glutinous for my liking, and I guess vegan shrimp just isn’t my thing.

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Deep-fried tofu skins filled with some veggie meat pieces and carrots.

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Inside view! Though this was on the oily side, it was crispy with a bit of chewiness, and the flavors were really nice.

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Digging in~~ There were a few other dishes I didn’t photograph (we ordered a lot, hehee). We ended it all on a sweet note, with some mango mochi rice cakes dusted in coconut. They were super soft and just melted in the mouth. Not bad for the first dim sum meal in HK!

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View of the skyline from Avenue of Stars. HK’s skyline is really impressive and… well-designed, if there is such a thing as sky-line design. Every building is right where it should be.

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It’s like every photo I’ve seen of HK, but in real life! :)

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After walking our feet off around TST, we headed to the Intercontinental Hotel for afternoon tea at the Lobby Lounge. ‘High tea’ or ‘afternoon tea’ is one of those British traditions that remain in HK since its colonial past. But instead of just some tea and humble scones, it is a decadent ‘must-try’ experience here in HK. Every hotel offers their own luxurious afternoon tea-time set including a mix of scones, savory sandwiches, and desserts, all balanced on a three-tier tray. It is definitely one of the priciest things we’ll be doing here, so we figured we’d splurge and go all-out-fancy-pants.

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Too bad none of the food was vegan, so I mostly just admired the presentation. However, they did have soy milk (upon request), which I enjoyed with some tasty freshly brewed coffee.

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They also brought out some complementary small fruit salad bowls with fresh mango, dragon fruit, and lychee. There were a few pastry crumbles on top, but I just ate around them.

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The whole experience was really relaxing, and I loved being able to see the harbor through the high glass windows. Who knows when else I’ll be able to experience something like this with my sister and mom~ <3

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And then at the end of the day, we took the Star Ferry to cross the harbor. My favorite part so far. The ride was soooo short, only like 7 minutes, but it was so refreshing, and the view of the harbor paired with the setting sunlight across the water was gorgeous. I would totally do this again before I leave!

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Walking around Sheung Wan, my sister’s neighborhood. So that about wraps up day one. Hope everyone in Korea is fine and dandy~ Stay tuned for more sights & veggie eats in HK!

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)

December 31, 2013
by Mipa
18 Comments

2013 Year in Review!

Today is the last day of 2013! I’m taking New Year’s Eve & Day off so that I can have some time away from the shop to relax, get things in order, and reflect on the past year. I came back from a quick trip to Cheonan yesterday, and then spent the rest of the night cleaning and organizing my room… you know, get things in order before the new year. And now I’m at a random cafe, blogging, and looking back on 2013.

This year was completely amazing, and I’m in awe of and so grateful for all experiences I’ve had. I’ve changed so much, I can’t even remember what my life was like last year! Some lasting impressions of 2013 will include all the people I met, all the ways my baking skills have improved, the business lessons I have learned, and also the way my Korean has improved. Although I still have a weird fear of speaking in Korean, I’m much more comfortable than before. My spiritual walk has also become more solidified, and I’m really grateful for the community I have at my church. Overall, this was a big year of growth for me. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about my future, but I’m not as fearful about the unknown as I was before. I’m just really grateful for all the life lessons from this year, the new, old, and rekindled friendships, the veg community in Seoul Korea that has been so incredibly supportive of ADO, and I’m also so thankful for being a part of something that feels bigger than myself.

Everything that happened in 2013 just seems like one massive blur, especially the second half. Looking back, I don’t really know what I did… I can’t remember individual days, it’s all just one big vague memory of working at the shop 24-7. This may sound ridiculous, but even though I did something huge like opening up a cafe/shop, a part of me still feels like I didn’t do much this year. Remember the 101 things I wanted to accomplish this year? During the first half of the year, I was doing pretty well with keeping on pace and working through the list… and then I accomplished #27 ‘Get A Studio,’ and that kind of changed my life. A lot of the other goals on my list got abandoned after I became too busy. It just goes to show that you gotta be careful what you wish for. It just may come true. :)

While I remember 2012 as being emotionally difficult, I think 2013 was more physically draining. In a year, I feel like I’ve aged about 5 years. Not being able to stay physically active has been one of the hardest things~ I’ve always felt pretty good about my level of fitness, but lately that has gone completely out the window. I’ve even been finding more white hairs on my head! Maybe it’s the stress and lack of sleep….

As for 2014, I haven’t had much time to think about new goals to shoot for, and I don’t even know  if I can handle another 101 list. I just want to continue growing and becoming a better, whole person. I’m still trying to figure out what is the next step for me. There are still so many areas for improvement, and I know that in order for my work schedule to become sustainable, I have to make some changes and sacrifices. If I could sum up my New Year’s Resolutions in one word, I think it would be ‘Balance’. To work hard, but also enjoy time off, take care of myself, and find joy in my other hobbies, besides baking. Things like drawing, boxing/mma, running, volunteering, and ofcourse, blogging.

So with all that said, here are some Highlights of 2013.

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The Mellowsong candle workshop in January. I remember this night well, not so much because of the fun we had making candles, but more because it was when Yona and I first starting to think of collaborating. We barely knew each other at that point, but we somehow started talking about possibly-maybe looking for a studio space together! And the rest, as they say, is history. Where would we be if neither of us attended the workshop?

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Being featured in VogueGirl magazine. This year Alien’s Day Out & PLANT were fortunate to be reviewed in various magazines, but this was maybe my favorite piece of press. I really enjoyed the interview, and also getting to select my own photos to share was most enjoyable.

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Attending Marche@ Seocho. When Marche@ was having a one-time event at Seocho, somehow everything came together and I was able to participate that one day. It was pretty grand.

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Catering desserts for the Mashil Cafe book release event.

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Botton Cafe’s first Market Day. This was maybe a month or two before PLANT opened…. back when Yona and I had time to participate in outside events. lol.

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Going to Jeju Island. 2013 was the first year in 7 years, that I did not travel abroad once. I always try to make it a point to go outside of Korea once a year, to take a break, get some perspective, and become re-inspired. This year, that didn’t happen. But I did go on a short trip to Jeju Island, which was pretty great. Still the same country, but ‘over seas’? :)

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Got really into boxing/kickboxing and mma this year. Sadly, I haven’t been able to go to my gym for several months now and I miss it more than anything.

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Opening PLANT, home of Alien’s Day Out & Yona’s Kitchen. The second half of 2013 was pretty much spent within these walls.

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Ah yes, and I turned 30 this year. Sigh.

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Last but not least, this past weekend, I went to Cheonan for a delayed Christmas celebration. Even my sister was visiting from HongKong, so it was the first time in many many years that our whole family was together for the holiday season.

So there you have it. A short recap of my past year. It seriously went by in the blink of an eye. I’m really looking forward to starting 2014, continuing to work on old goals as well as setting some new ones. Oh, and I only have a few days of work this week and then PLANT is taking 2 weeks vacation! I will be visiting my sister in HongKong for a whole week!!! Can’t wait to finally explore somewhere new and try some new vegan foods. Any readers in HK, hit me up with where I need to go! :)

Alas, it’s time to say farewell to 2013, and I wish every one of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! <3

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)

December 27, 2013
by Mipa
8 Comments

MERRY (belated) CHRISTMAS!!!!

Happy late Christmas, my dear readers!!! After 2 weeks, I finally have a break in my schedule to sit myself down and blog. Omg, I feel like the worst blogger… “I need to blog” is probably one the most frequent things I say… I think Yona is probably starting to get sick of hearing it every day (that and “where’s my phone!?”). I feel bad that I can’t blog as much as I used to, and the focus of the blog has changed somewhat… less restaurant/cafe reviews and explorations in Seoul, more random eats and pics from the shop. Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually reads this blog, so it always amazes me when I meet someone at the shop and they tell me how much the blog has helped them as a veggie here in Korea. I’ve even had people say that they were reading my blog before they came to Korea, and it reassured them that they could indeed survive & thrive as a vegan here. That’s sooo encouraging and it makes me want to keep putting good content out there. So all that said, thank you for your patience and continual interest in Alien’s Day Out, whether it’s the blog or the bake shop!

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This Christmas has been one of my busiest… Yona and I decided to keep the shop open all through Christmas week, and just take time off after the holidays. The workload has been non-stop and at this point, I’m pretty much running on fumes. But now that Christmas is over, and I’m not planning on working on New Year’s eve and day, I think I can finally relax a bit. And come Jan 1st, every one will go on a diet, so then the bakery won’t be so busy, right? haha. Anyway, even though I’m tired, I still love what I do… and I love meeting people at the shop and seeing them enjoy vegan food. No matter how tired I am, when someone comes into the store and starts telling me how much the blog helped them, it just makes me feel like it’s all worth it. So grateful!!

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Was busy baking and packaging vegan rum fruit cake.

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Packaging gift boxes for online orders. A huge thank you to those who ordered pressies from the bakeshop!

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Chocolate & red velvet cupcakes, with pomegranates on top.

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Late night celebrations at PLANT. Some customers-turned-friends brought us some vegan pumpkin pie and wine~ It was a much-needed distraction and break, before going back to baking. Besides, baking with a slight buzz makes everything turn out better, no? jk~~

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And when it wasn’t too busy at the shop, I made sure to watch Christmas movies, like Love Actually, the Holiday, and Elf… :) Oh, and also The Sound of Music~~ it’s not a Christmas movie, but singing along to ‘These are a few of my favorite things” while baking is one of the best things in life. You should try it.

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Even Bunny is probably thinking “hellooo, when are you gonna make time for meee”.

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Our lovely fake mistletoe hanging above the checkout counter. :)

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Dinner of dolsot bibimbab, minus the egg. These days, I crave Korean food more than ever. Salty, spicy….everything that is the opposite of what I eat/make at the shop, haha.

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An overseas blog reader & customer was visiting Korea, and she brought us some vegan green pea cookies from HongKong. They are so good and very addictive… In two days, Yona and I have done serious damage on these guys. The container which is about 5 layers deep, is already practically empty. (Thank you @Peabrainer!) The generosity and thoughtfulness of customers who brought Christmas presents to the shop was so heart-warming. I also got a bottle of hand-ground sesame oil (from Josh), some winter-season ale & frosting tips (from Camille), Tazo tea (Alexa), a lunch of odeng noodles (SongA), and I know there’s more but my mind is throwing a blank. sorry if i missed anyone.

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And now that the holiday feasting is over and I’m slowly coming off my sugar high, I’m craving fresher, cleaner foods. Like my wheatgrass green smoothies in the morning. Banana, soymilk, wheatgrass powder, chia seeds, and a bit of stevia. I’m looking forward to eating a little healthier now… I haven’t made any NY resolutions yet, but I think I really have to start thinking about ways to live a healthier life… balancing work and rest, trying to eat healthy while running a bakery for a living, and fitting physical exercise into an already packed schedule. Just some things to think about before the year is up. Looking forward to 2014!

 

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)

December 12, 2013
by Mipa
7 Comments

December Chilling

Brr, it’s so cold!! Definitely not a fan of winter weather. Waking up early in the morning is getting harder and harder these days. All I want to do is stay curled up in bed with my toasty electric blanket. It’s pitch black when I leave my house in the morning, and even when I arrive at the shop. Sometimes I’ll still not fully awake when I get to the shop so I don’t want to turn on the lights,,… so then I’ll even bake in the dark. Ok, not total darkness, but dim. haha. One good thing is that the kitchen is always pretty warm because we have the ovens going most of the time. It’s dreadful in the summer, but perfect in the winter.

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My vegan fancypants Earl Grey tea cake made its fabulous comeback. And I used buttercream frosting mixed with apple preserve.

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Getting in the Christmas spirit~

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Recipe-testing some New York Black & White cookies… They’re so classy and elegant, I’d love to have them at the bakeshop for Christmas season.

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Gingerbread boy.

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For my birthday last month, Yona bought me the best gift everrr! A cake turntable! Is that what it’s even called? A cake turning thingy. Before, I was using this totally ghetto method of turning my cakes while frosting… it’s too ghetto to share, sorry. I really should’ve gotten a turntable earlier, but I couldn’t be bothered and was all like “what? this totally works fine,” while my cakes were all “rustic” with uneven frosting etc. But now that I have this turntable, I don’t know how I ever lived without it! And it’s even got marks to help you cut the cake into uniform slices. It’s the best thing since sliced cake (aaaanz.).

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Last week for my weekly menu at PLANT, I made BLT (aka TLT) wraps with vegan clam chowder! The wrap was basically smoky tempeh slices with lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo, and some couscous to fill it out. For the clam chowder, I used the recipe that our vegan hero Isa shared not too long ago. I changed it slightly though… instead of button mushrooms, I used enoki, and I left out the tomato paste and lemon juice. I also used dried shiitake mushrooms rather than fresh because I find they have much more flavor and the texture is also chewier, more like clams. The only thing is that dried shiitake mushrooms are especially pricey. :( Anyway, I think this was one of my favorite dishes I’ve made at PLANT. Coming up with a new, hopefully tasty, and appealing plate every week can be a bit stressful when there are always so many other things to do, but I’m also learning so much more about how to veganize some of my favorite meat-centric foods.

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During the week, I pretty much just eat whatever food I have at PLANT, which is usually things like sandwiches or wraps. So I always crave good Korean food! So on Sunday my friend took me out for some good veggie Korean eats. We had gondorae bab (mountain greens), with banchan and mook salad. Comfort food~

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And then the other night some lovely folks brought me dinner from Petra’s! Everything was yummy, especially because I was hangry and sick of eating my own food. :) So grateful for friends who are so considerate like this.

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And another friend bought me some carrot juice. :)

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Breakfast/brunch in the morning.

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For my friend’s birthday dinner, a bunch of us went Kkaolli Pochana, a hole-in-the-wall Thai place near Kyungridan.

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It’s very humble and a bit run-down on the inside but that’s what I loved about it. Plastic tables and stools, old crusty photos on the wall, and their menu printed on A4 paper stuck to the wall. But the atmosphere was really great and even though I couldn’t taste most of the dishes, I did enjoy my simple veganized pad thai. They can vegetarianize many of the dishes (just take out the meat or seafood), and if you’re vegan make sure you ask them to remove any egg.

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Their regular pad thai has meat and eggs in it, but I just asked them to leave that out for me. It didn’t have much else in it besides some zucchini, sprouts, and peanuts, so it was very simple. But I still ate it all! (sorry for the yellow lighting). Check out their FB page for directions and more info.

Ok folks. Have a good snow-day! :)

December 4, 2013
by Mipa
13 Comments

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! It feels like ages since I updated my blog… Last week was pretty busy with thanksgiving festivities and I reckon the next month or so will continue to be hectic. I guess that’s how it is for everyone around this time of the year.

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So I think it’s safe to say we are officially in winter now. Last week we even had this awesome flurry of snow and so I ran outside and snapped this photo of our shop. It’s our first winter at PLANT so every thing feels extra special and memorable. I also love seeing the snow falling from the window, with the smell of freshly baked muffins wafting from the kitchen, and playing Christmas tunes.

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I don’t know if we will be here for a second winter, so I want to soak it all in~ *update: don’t worry, I’m not leaving Korea any time soon~ but you just never know where a business will be after a year… especially here in Korea where the turnover rate is so high.

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Since it was thanksgiving week, I knew I had to do something to celebrate at PLANT. I entertained the thought of doing a full-out thanksgiving spread, but shot it down pretty quick cuz I knew it would be waaay too much work. So I went with a grilled thanksgiving sandwich instead with all the basics: homemade tofurkey deli slices, cranberry sauce, vegan pepperjack cheese, and mashed potatoes, with gravy dip on the side. It was pretty bomb. And still a lot of work. haha.

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Fresh cranberries are impossible to find in Korea so I went with frozen cranberries for the sauce. And there’s a closeup of the mushroom gravy. There were so many different components to make….. It definitely kept me busy the whole week, but it was worth it because it made people happy. :) The only thing missing was vegan pumpkin pie. sorry.

And now onto some other random eats:

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Tempeh and vegan cheese sandwich, made with left over ingredients from the week I made tempeh reuben sandwiches.

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Here is how I enjoyed my ‘dinosaur eggs‘ that I got for my birthday! Avocado toasties for breakfast and dinner. My fave.

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The other weekend, I went to Dos Tacos in Gangnam and also got some yummy hand-drip coffee after. I really miss hanging out with friends outside of the shop, and I’m loving my free Sundays for that reason– I get to go out. Anyway, at Dos Tacos I got the burrito bowl and horchata. It seems Dos Tacos recently expanded their menu~ In addition to the new burrito bowls they also have a few more salad and taco options. Yumz.

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My friend brought me dinner at a placed called Robot Kimbab. They have all kinds of kimbabs and even a vegetarian one with soy meat! There are two locations, one in Hongdae and a new one near Noksapyeong. If you’re vegan, just ask them to leave out the mayo.

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Cake trio~ Carrot, Chocolate-PB, and Caramel-Apple Banana cake. I love all of them equally~~ but maybe my favorite thing in this picture is the yellow leaves outside the window. :)

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My friend Johanna sent a care package to the shop with super healthy gluten-free breakfast cookies. At first glance I thought they were veggie burger patties, but nope. They’re energy patties made with all kinds of goodness like coconut, dates, raisins, nuts, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, chia seeds etc etc.

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Late night dinner: vegan ramen with tofu added, and vegan kimchi. Yes, my face was bloated like a balloon the following morning.

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Bunny. She’s such a baby!!

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She knows she’s cute.

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And here’s one last picture of thanksgiving food to close out this post. My church had a huge thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, pie, etc, ordered from the Dragon Hill lodge on base. I knew nothing would be vegan, but I was determined to go and still celebrate the occasion. My friends were so awesome and brought some vegan eats for me and another vegan. Pita bread, hummus, japchae, two different pastas, avocado, tempeh… and I also brought some tofurkey, vegan cheese, and some cake. In the end, the vegans had more deliciousness to eat than everyone else. Yumz. Well, that’s all for the thanksgiving eats. I’m looking forward to Christmas now! :)

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)

November 27, 2013
by Mipa
2 Comments

Old & New

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Woah. Check out my old and new oven mitts! I bought the one on the left earlier this year and it’s become so toasted and holey that I had to get a new one. You know you’re a baker when your oven mitts look like that. Luckily, they’re only 2,000won at Daiso. I like these ones the best out of all the oven mitts I’ve seen in Korea cuz they’re small and fit my hands better. yayy.

Feel free to leave a comment!

November 19, 2013
by Mipa
22 Comments

Hello 30′s…

Yesterday I turned 30.

Holy ddong. How did this happen? What? Really?

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It’s hard to believe I’ve lived three whole decades. My 30th birthday totally crept up on me and I wasn’t prepared for it at all. I wanted to accomplish more stuff before I hit the big 3-0, but I guess now that’s out the window. When I first realized my birthday was coming up, I’ll admit that I was sad and bummed about it. Mostly because I still feel pretty immature, like I’m perpetually 24 years old. But now, I’m actually excited about what the future might hold this year and in my 30′s. I feel like I’m moving into a new chapter of life, where I’m [a little] more secure with who I am, I know what I believe to be true, and I’m getting better at surrounding myself with goooood people. So instead of being all sulky and mopey about being 30, I’m just filled with so much gratitude for where I am now and what I’m doing. I mean, what do I have to complain about, really. I have a freaking amazing job, I have the most supportive family, I have the best co-worker/biz partner, I love my church, and I have some of the best friends one could ask for. Honestly the second-half of my 20′s was a rough time… but I feel like I’m coming out the other side of that stronger, more capable, and more confident. So with that said, cheers to getting old and hopefully aging like fine wine.

Anyway~~ it was a good day. Most of it was spent working at the studio and running errands~ just another typical Monday for me. But at night I got to party…. not too heavily though, I’m too old for dat.

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For dinner, some of my dearest friends got together at Hummus Kitchen, a fanshy comtemporary Middle Eastern restaurant in between Hangangjin & Itaewon station. It’s fairly new and I’ve walked passed it a few times and was always curious about their food. I’ve heard both positive and some ‘meh’ reviews. But after my dinner party there, I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot. Perhaps I was just particularly high on life that night, but I thought the food was great and the service was even better. It’s a pretty swanky restaurant and my friends and I were being pretty loud and crazy, but the staff didn’t give us the stink eye and they were super accommodating with all our requests. I thoroughly enjoyed the vegan options, and my omni friends loved their food too. I ate the Hummus plate, and the Avocado & hummus pita bread. These were the two vegan options on the menu, but there were plenty of vegetarian options with dairy cheese (possibly veganizeable?). Everything tasted awesome. I particularly liked the pita pizza. It was crispy with a generous layer of hummus, and then thick slices of delicious avocado, half-dried tomato, olives, and lots of fresh parsley sprinkled on top. They cut it up so it’s perfect for sharing, but I pretty much ate the whole thing myself. Was definitely stuffed at the end. (apologies for the potato photo quality.)

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And because it’s not a birthday without cake, my friend made a vegan cake for me! It was so awesome having something baked by someone else. I think I just eat too much of my own desserts every day that I enjoy other people’s baked goods that much more. This was the first vegan cake she attempted, and it tasted awesome! I was super impressed with the texture and taste~~ but more than anything, the fact that she attempted a vegan cake just for me made me feel so loved. And look at how she wrote my name with almonds. Look at it!! <3

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So that wraps up my Birthday blog post. I’m grateful to all those who made it special, and also for all the bday love on Facebook. I thank God for bringing me this far in life, for my loving family, for my health, for all the events of my life that have shaped me into the person I am today, for friends, and for whatever ability he has given me to make a living. Hello 30′s, here I come!!

 

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)

November 12, 2013
by Mipa
26 Comments

A Day in the Life of Me

Man, it got so freezing cold all of a sudden! It’s time to bust out the thick winter coats and scarves. Rumor has it that it’s gonna be a particularly cold and loooong winter season, so we gotta brace ourselves. :(

Anyway, for this post, I thought it might be fun to go through “A day in the life of Me” and document some of my daily routine as a baker/blogger/shop owner. Ofcourse, every day is a little different, but when I’m at the shop from Tuesday-Saturday, it’s pretty similar. Previously, I was at the shop 7 days a week, but I recently changed my schedule to give me a bit more free time. Even though the shop/cafe is closed on Mondays, I’m always there working on other orders and prepping for the upcoming week, so I recently decided to take Sundays off to give me ONE full day away from the shop. I’m really loving my free Sundays, even if it means less business. FYI, the shop will still be open on Sundays, but there will be a limited selection of vegan baked goods from the Alien’s Day Out bakeshop, and there will only be one meal option, provided by Yona’s Kitchen.

So anyway, here’s a general idea of my day~

It all starts when I wake up between 5:30-6am, depending on how many times I hit the snooze button. :)

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6:30am: I leave the house and wait for my bus to take me to Itaewon. Now that it’s cold, I gotta bundle up and sometimes my hair is still wet… Waiting in the cold for the bus is so miserable! But the best part of my commute in the morning is seeing the sun rise over the han river. I always try to sit on the right side of the bus just so I can enjoy the view, even if it’s just for a minute.

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And then I arrive at PLANT.

Morning light in the studio. my fave time to bake.
7:30-11am. As soon as I get to the studio, I start baking and frosting cakes. I usually get there a few hours before Yona, so I get the whole studio to myself. It’s my favorite time of the day to bake and be productive~ Usually the mornings are taken up with finishing the cakes and cooking for the meal service. I just turn on the news on my laptop so I have some background noise, make myself some coffee and eat something for breakfast. Then I roll up my sleeves, and get to work. If I’m making sandwiches or burgers that week, I also have to run to the bakery and grab bread or burger buns (a hassle, but it must be done…).

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If I finish all the prep work ahead of schedule, I bake other things like muffins or thin mint squares. These are probably my most labor-intensive item, so it’s best to have a good chunk of time dedicated just to them.

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By 11am, I usually have all the cakes frosted and everything set up on the showcase.

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11am-noon: Sometimes I have a moment to enjoy some tea and do some blogging or emailing before customers arrive. The calm before the storm. I love getting to sit at the back table and prop my feet up like I own the place.. oh wait, I guess I do… :)

11am~~~8pm. During the shop’s open hours, I’m usually cooking, baking, cutting cakes, doing dishes, and serving coffee~ If it’s not as busy, I’ll get on my laptop and respond to emails, order baking ingredients online, grab something to eat, or chat with customers (if they want to talk, haha). When friends or acquaintances visit the shop, I always feel bad that I can’t sit with them and talk for as long as I want. :( But I love it when people visit me, so please don’t stop!

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Around 4pm. This ajushi passes our shop every afternoon, pulling his heavy vegetable & fruit wagon and yelling to let neighbors know he’s passing through. He’s old and haggardly and always smells like soju & cigarettes, but he’s got the sweetest demeanor. When we first moved into the shop, we didn’t get the best first impression of him, but he’s definitely grown on us over the past few months. His veggies and fruits aren’t the freshest, but he’s always so generous, throwing in extra freebies. I buy most of my produce at my local market, but if I’m in a pinch, I get stuff from him.

~~8pm: more baking, cooking…

8-10pm. Closing the shop, baking again, and prepping for the following day. Clean-up and end-of-day accounting, etc, etc. Sometimes I also make a last minute run to the foreign food mart or supermarket.

Bus ride home. Can't wait to  go home and prop my feet up.
10-11pm. Time to head home. If I leave late enough (after rush hour), I usually can get a seat on the bus. It’s about a 50-minute ride on the bus, with one transfer in the middle. I mostly spend the time playing candy crush or catching up on social media on the way home.

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11pm-midnight. Once I’m home, I unwind a bit by watching tv, maybe eating a late dinner, and playing with the Buns. I always feel guilty about leaving her home by herself all day! :(:(:(

~12:30/1am. Bed time! I want to go to sleep earlier, but by the time I’m in bed, it’s usually past midnight. I count myself lucky if I can get about 5 hours of sleep, before I have to wake up and head back to the studio.

So there you have it. A basic run-down of my day, if anyone was interested, haha. I’m still trying to figure things out to be more efficient and give myself more time to have a social life, blog, go to the gym, etc etc. At least now I’m not working on Sundays so I can use that day to rest up. YAYY!

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)

November 5, 2013
by Mipa
3 Comments

Vegan Baked Mini Donuts

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Last month was my final recipe for Bakery Magazine. I had been writing vegan recipes for them for over a year, but with so many other things going on, I recently decided it was time to say farewell as a contributor. It was great working with the editor and I learned a lot from the experience. I hope Korean readers got something out of it, and that it perhaps inspired other professional bakers to experiment with vegan ingredients. I’m really grateful for the opportunity. Anyway, for my final recipe submission, I made mini baked vegan donuts! It’s been on my list of things to veganize for a long time, and when I got a mini donut pan from my friend Kia when she left Korea (among many other kitchen supplies!), it was time to make it happen. And they turned out great!

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Obviously, these aren’t like traditional doughnuts, but personally, I reckon they’re just as good. The crumb is lovely and soft, with a slight sponginess– they’re cakey-er, lighter donuts, rather than dense and doughy. They’re probably healthier too because they’re not deep fried and they’re bite-sized so you don’t do too much damage. Unless you eat more than one which is totally acceptable in my books. Infact, I dare you to try to eat just one.

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Nekked. Ready for some chocolate icing! One important tip is not to over-fill the donut pan. Only fill it to about 2/3 full, otherwise it will rise too much and your donuts will have muffin tops. You can see that for a few of mine, they were filled too high and they have a bit of a lip. If you have a regular-sized donut pan, double the recipe and bake a few minutes longer.

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Vegan Baked Mini Donuts
makes 12 mini-sized donuts

110g all purpose flour
25g whole wheat flour
5g baking powder
1g ground nutmeg
a small pinch of cinnamon
95g organic soy milk
5g rice vinegar
90g organic unrefined cane sugar
50g melted non-dairy vegan butter (Nuttelex)
45g zucchini, peeled
4g organic vanilla extract
1g salt

Chocolate glaze:
100g vegan dark chocolate chips
15g coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 175C. Lightly grease your mini donut pan.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Mix well.
3. In a small bowl, mix the soy milk and vinegar together and leave it for a few minutes, while it curdles and becomes thick.
4. In a separate bowl, add the sugar, melted butter, peeled zucchini, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend using a hand-blender until there are no more zucchini lumps. Add the soy milk-vinegar mixture and blend again.
5. Add the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
6. Transfer batter into a piping bag. Cut a small hole at the bottom end and carefully pour the batter into the prepared donut pan. Only fill the pan about 2/3 full.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
8. Let cool in molds, while preparing the chocolate glaze.
9. In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil, mixing well, until smooth.
10. Dip each donut into the chocolate glaze and place on parchment paper to cool. Add sprinkles or other toppings.

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More than anything, these mini donuts are just too effin’ cute! How could you resist one of these little guys?!

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Chomp! The chocolate topping is half as thick as the donut itself. Enjoy!

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)

October 30, 2013
by Mipa
18 Comments

Autumn Fresh Air~

It’s almost November!!! The days are just slipping away~~ Two more months until this year is over. Two more months to complete as many things on my 101 list as I can (I already know I won’t accomplish them all)… There are always a lot of things on my mind, but especially recently, my mind won’t stop, and on top of that, I caught the flu that everyone and their mother has lately, and it really did a number on me. I guess being at the studio 7 days a week, 14-16 hours every day, is eventually going to catch up to you.

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These days, I’ve been thinking of how I can create the life that I want. I definitely am grateful that I get to make a living doing something I love. That is without a doubt something I’m really proud of, for having the courage to create my own work and nurturing it to grow. Every day, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be creative, share my values, and meet new people at the cafe. But if anything, being sick these past few days has made me realize that I need to rethink some things. I heard this a lot on shows like Oprah (haha) and I’m sure you’ve heard it too: Sayings like “you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of your family.” While I don’t have a family, I do have a business and Alien’s Day Out/Plant is my baby. And if I’m constantly being drained, then I won’t have anything left to give. I totally get it. I’m learning more about setting boundaries, for my own benefit. Because I’m a workaholic, if I don’t set those boundaries, I will keep working until I’m passed out in a bowl of cake batter. I’ve been realizing that I have to take better care of myself first if I’m going to be of any use to anyone, and if I’m going to continue this work long-term. Sometimes you have to set aside certain pressures and expectations that are in your head and stop driving yourself mad trying to compete and win.

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So with all that said, I’m really glad that my sister was visiting Korea the past few weeks because it forced me to create some free time to spend with family and get out of the studio. As much as I love my work and hanging out at the shop, I also need some time away!

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The other week, I finally made a short trip to Cheonan to spend time with my family. It has been months and months since I last went to Cheonan, and since it was my sister’s last weekend in Korea, my family had a little get-together. The weather was so perfect, we took a stroll around the Independence Hall which is so lovely and peaceful this time of the year.

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So far from Seoul. Just what I needed. :) It was the most relaxed I’ve been in ages, and I loved every second of being surrounded by nature. Ahhh, can’t you just taste the crispness of the fresh countryside air?! Simply glorious. I’m sure I sound like a broken record by now, but really, THIS is the PERFECT time to be in Korea. Gorgeous weather, the changing colors, the festivals, the fall fruit & veggies…. Seriously, if you’re overseas, just hop on a plane and come over already. :)

And now onto some random vegan eats!

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One of PLANT’s favorite customers brought us a bunch of homemade vegan Ethiopian grub!! Dericious. And apparently the Ethiopian restaurant by the Foreign Food Mart is now open again, only on weekends. Not sure about the hours or other details, but I’m definitely hoping to visit there soon. My friend bought the injira bread from the restaurant, but she cooked all the sides herself. Will try to followup with more deets on the Ethiopian restaurant soon.

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And then another one of my friends brought me a salad at work! He got it at a place called ‘Salad Style‘ up along Haebangchon. They don’t have a vegan option on the menu, but if you ask them to make a vegan salad, they seem to be pretty accommodating. I’ve had their salads a few times, and it’s always really fresh~ And gotta love the addition of avocados.

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If anyone had an image of me being a health-nut, here’s one to shatter that perception. Yes, every once in a while, I’ll indulge in some Mcdonald’s fries~~ and for some reason, lately I’ve been craving them. They’re so good, especially the soggy ones. The soggier the better. Amirite or amirite?

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The other week I had veggie pot pie as my meal option at PLANT. Instead of a traditional pot pie with a bottom/top crust, I just made vegan buttery biscuits instead and placed that on top.

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There was something really soul-satisfying about making fresh biscuits several times a day. For the recipe, I used “Best Damn Vegan Biscuits” from the Minimalist Baker. The only changes I made was that I used brown rice vinegar instead of lemon juice, and made sure all ingredients were very cold (I stuck them in the freezer for 30 minutes), including the flour, before mixing. And as the recipe name promises, they were pretty damn good, especially right out of the oven. So flaky and melt-in-your-mouth.

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Apple-fig cake.

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Tis the season for pumpkin salted caramel cake! This is a current staple at the bakeshop. FYI, I shared the recipe for vegan caramel sauce a while back, so definitely try it out for yourself. It’s finger-lickin’ good shtuff, and even better with a little fleur de sel sprinkled on top.

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Peanut-butter swirl brownies. Jus’ cuz peanut butter makes everything better.

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Can we just take a moment to admire the gloriousness of this photo? Avocado!!! Yona had some left over avocados from making california rolls last week (she bought them at Costco), so I got one and sliced it up into a wrap with curried cole slaw and cilantro, with a bit of salt, pepper, and paprika sprinkled on top. It was divine!! The fact that avocados are so expensive in Korea makes me want to cry.

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냠냠~ 맛있다!

Aiight folks, that’s all I got for this post. Thank you for reading and letting me share a bit of my life over the internet. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to blog on a regular basis, but no matter how delayed, I will eventually get to writing a post!

So tell me dear readers: How do you balance everything in your life, and what are some sacrifices you are willing to make in order to take better care of yourself?

I love hearing feedback from you guys! Feel free to leave a comment by clicking here~~ :)