SEOUL - Over five years ago, a family-run cupcake shop opened in Seoul's Cheongdam-dong.
Everything, from the dusky pink and ebony decor to the impeccably frosted, toothsome cupcakes, was spot-on. Even the name, Royal Cupcake, was catchy.
Word-of-mouth spread. Royal Cupcake drew an ever-growing crowd of loyal regulars. Then, in late 2012 it closed.
For around 10 months, Royal Cupcake's popular sweets were unavailable. That is until last November, when owner Kum Ki-young and his wife decided to quietly re-open in Gyeonggi Province's Pangyo.
To try to stay a bit under the radar at first, Kum recounts, the new Pangyo shop kept its name abbreviated to Royal.
Yet, to no avail. There was no fooling anyone, he revealed. People soon figured out that the cupcakery was back. Now, the Pangyo store goes by Royal Cupcake.
Once Kum and his wife were settled into their new shop, the time naturally came for their second store.
"We kept getting inquiries about when we would re-open our original shop," Kum, 34, said.
This March, Royal Cupcake launched a second outlet near its original location in Apgujeong-dong.
"I was slightly worried our Pangyo patrons would start coming here but that's not what happened," said Kum. "Instead, our old Cheongdam regulars, the customers who could not make it out to Pangyo, came back."
"It has been so good to reconnect," he added.
From its new spot off Apgujeong's Rodeo Street, the small six-seat space serves around 20 varieties of cupcakes daily from a rotating repertoire of about 40.
Kum revealed the cupcakery's most popular flavors are red velvet, Earl Grey and lemon, and vanilla.
"We use real vanilla beans for our vanilla cake batter," he said with pride.
Fans might see some new additions like Royal's chocolate coconut cupcake, which Kum revealed was available when the cupcakery first opened in Cheongdam-dong, then disappeared and is now back.
The chocolate coconut cupcake pairs rich dark chocolate cake with a thick crown of cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut. The slightly bitter depth of the cake works well with the sweet coconut-inflected topping.
Other cupcakes include the classic carrot, which has a sweet tang from pineapple in the cake, and double chocolate fudge, a fall apart luscious, chocolate custard filled-cake that will satisfy any sweet tooth.
According to Kum, Royal is also bringing its banana split cupcakes back this week.
"We will be adding 10 more flavors," he divulged.
This is just the beginning for the brand, which Kum hopes to grow into three to four stores.
"We want to grow our mass appeal a bit more," he said.