H Mart plays such an important part in the lives of Asian Americans that people are crying inside and now getting engaged outside the supermarket chain.
That’s what happened to San Francisco couple Jay Lee and Pamela Hung, whose engagement gained much attention after H Mart shared the proposal on its official Instagram page.
Discovering cultural identity through food
It all started when Jay, who is Korean American, thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if I proposed at H Mart?” He then realized that the Asian grocery store had become a really special place for both of them. Pamela, who is Taiwanese American, studied nutrition and worked at an H Mart when a local branch first opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during graduate school.
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“We’ve come to appreciate how food is one of the most powerful ways of connecting with our identity and culture, especially as we got to explore each other’s cultures through food,” the couple told NextShark. “Each dish we’ve cooked has come with stories about childhood, family, and values that we got to share with each other.”
Jay and Pamela met on a dating app and went out for hot chocolate in San Francisco. They moved to Pasadena, California, during the height of COVID-19, but the pandemic didn’t stop Jay from orchestrating an elaborate proposal at H Mart with three of Pamela’s best friends.
He took her to their local H Mart in Pasadena where he read from a card that described his favorite things about the love of his life. Each friend then took turns walking Pamela around the store, sharing their favorite things about her and giving the three things she enjoys: Steamed Bread “Manto” from JJ Bakery; Taiwanese Rice Burritos “Fantuans”; and sliced apples in tupperware.
Crying in H Mart ensued as Jay got down on one knee to propose under the glowing neon sign in front of the store.
Planning a wedding in a pandemic
The rise of the omicron variant has presented new challenges for the couple, but Pamela mentioned they are doing their best to plan for a wedding in the fall in the Bay Area. The couple is looking to plan their bachelor parties in Toronto.
“We are renting a YMCA campsite for a summer camp-themed weekend wedding,” she said. “We definitely want to feature Taiwanese and Korean foods (maybe from Hmart!) at our wedding because as we mentioned, food is an important way we connect to our cultural roots.”
It isn’t truly an H Mart marriage proposal without some of the Asian mega-supermarket chain’s staples such as kimbap and ramen.
“We’re actually planning on incorporating both into our wedding,” the couple said. “Jay’s mom is going to lead a kimbap-making workshop, and we’re going to have midnight Shin Ramen after a night of dancing. If, you know, H Mart wants to sponsor that part of our wedding, hint hint. Either way, we’ll be headed back to H Mart for some wedding shopping.”
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