IN case you didn’t know, “Hallyu” or Korean wave is a collective term used to refer to the phenomenal growth of South Korean pop culture including from food and music to movies and television series titles, which started to boom around the world in the late ’90s.

According to the Korea Foundation, hallyu hit the Philippines hard with the highest growth rate in the number of fans and clubs since then.

Think about it: The long queues outside Korean restaurants offering unlimited samgyeopsal; television dramas translated and dubbed in Tagalog and aired on primetime national television; K-beauty stores, K-cafes and K-groceries and stores popping up nationwide—all of these prove the Korean craze in the country.

In fact, the South Korean cafe scene is one of the main reasons other travelers keep visiting the country. Cebuano architect Ed Christian Chua and his Korean wife Nam Min Young, together with his sisters Kate and Kathleen, opened Cafe Elim with a goal of highlighting that scene and providing Cebuanos with the authentic Korean cafe experience.

From the menu and interior design down to the presentation and every little detail including its utensils, Cafe Elim ticked down all of the things that the South Korean cafe scene is made of. Even the coffee is imported from Korea, and the desserts offered are those that are currently the rage in South Korea.

“We often update our menu, especially when South Korea introduces a new dessert. We will study and learn the recipe and make it here in Cebu,” said Nam Min Young, who shared that they usually go to South Korea to keep themselves posted on trends.

Two years ago, South Korea launched the Tom and Jerry cheesecake, and a few months after its launching, Cafe Elim made its own version and offered it in Cebu. It also made its version of the popular Korean egg drop sandwich, a sandwich that brings together fluffy scrambled eggs, melted cheese, and different filling like bacon or sausage—all wrapped together in a buttery toast drizzled with sweet creamy sauce, and called its version Egg Drop.

“We offered Egg Drop before when it got popular in South Korea, but people were not into it back then. But during the pandemic, the Egg Drop became an instant hit because of the series ‘Hospital Playlist,’” Ed Christian shared.

The couple is proud to say that most of the cafe’s offerings are made from scratch including its breads which inspired them to offer bread to their customers due to public demand. Everyone is welcome to its bakery on the second floor, where one can sit and watch how its baked goods are made by its highly skilled staff.

Since Christmas is fast approaching, Cafe Elim also offers milk jams in tubes which are also popular in South Korea, to pair its breads with, with six flavors to choose from: Milk, Caramel, Earl Grey, Espresso Choco, Green tea and Strawberry.

One of the best-sellers that Cafe Elim didn’t anticipate is its fresh cream cakes made of the freshest ingredients and made fresh from the oven every order.

“Unexpectedly, we have become like a cake shop since the lockdown. People were ordering their cakes from us for whatever occasion they had,” stated Ed Christian.

When it comes to how Instagrammable a place is, Cafe Elim certainly ranks high on that scale. Given its eye-catching facade nestled in The Space on A.S. Fortuna St., Mandaue City, Cebu, you would expect the inside of the cafe to be as aesthetically pleasing as it is or even more. There are tons of spots for a good pose, such as its sensory touch lights, a mix of Terrazzo, marble, and modern dining sets, vivid bird pendant light framed along the stairs, clean white rustic-textured walls with pink accents, and neon light fixtures, and even the door of its comfort room. Plus, it has great lighting, thanks to its glass wall. Cafe Elim is a place that’s cheerful, inviting, sweet and cozy.

Cafe Elim is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.