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Niagara Falls
Monday, April 22, 2024
“Soko” Korean-style bakery opens in NOTL
Jihu "Gina" and her husband Sang Il Lee moved to Canada from South Korea five years ago. Maddy Gordon

After Jihu “Gina” Hyeon and her husband Sang-Il Lee moved from South Korea five years ago, they knew they wanted to open up a business in Canada – the question was what kind of business they would pursue.

Hyeon had three years of experience working as a part-time baker in South Korea and always had a passion for baking.

“When I bake for my family and friends and I see they are happy. That makes me happy,” Hyeon said.

When they realized there were no Korean bakeries in the area, the couple knew they had to be the first and opened Soko Bakery Cafe in Niagara-on-the-Lake in July.

All of the treats are inspired by Korean trends and styles, and each brings something unique to the table.

When coming up with recipes and ideas, Hyeon tunes into what is happening in Korea and what is trending, so the baked goods can take authentic inspiration from the culture.

For instance, in some of the scones offered at the bakery, she includes green onions, which is a very common ingredient in Korea.

Her favourite treat to make is the roll cake because of how satisfying the end result is, since the process has to be done delicately.

It was important to them that there was something for every customer, which is why the majority of their treats can be gluten-free, lactose-free or vegetarian, Hyeon said.

So, what’s the best part of running the bakery so far?

“The local people who came and tried our goods first and then came back many times,” Hyeon said.

The Niagara Falls couple wanted to open in NOTL because it’s their favourite place in the region, she said. They love the beautiful scenery and the friendliness of residents, she added.

“We were worried about whether Canadians would like this (the food) or not, but when we got so much positive feedback, it made us more comfortable,” said Hyeon.

From pastries, cakes and buns to sandwiches and coffee, the bakery at 358 Mary St., near the Sandtrap Pub, has a wide variety of popular treats with a Korean twist.

It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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