Meet Hi Noona, The Juice Shop Marrying Beauty and Korean Culture

·3 min read

When ideating her next career moves, former beauty editor Stella Pak paints beauty and juices with the same brush — literally.

Pak, who opened the juice shop and café Hi Noona last year in New York’s East Village, decorated the space by repurposing old makeup samples and lipsticks to paint one of the shop’s walls. “It was a letting-go process,” said Pak, who’s working with brands like Nars Cosmetics and served as V Magazine’s beauty editor. “It’s a part of me and it always will be.”

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Hi Noona, a spin-off of Pak’s mother’s noodle shop Noona Noodles, was informed equally by her Korean heritage as well as her days in the trenches of the beauty industry. “When I worked at Nars, I learned so much about branding when it came to nomenclature,” she said. “In Korea, we have this cold traditional dish called naengmyeon. If you’re not Korean, it’s not approachable, so for my mom’s noodle shop, I renamed it. Here at Hi Noona, I wanted to hold the integrity of naming and naming conventions.”

New to the menu includes sujeonggwa, a traditional tea of ginger, cinnamon and persimmons, which Pak amped up with apples and dates. Other recipes include Fuji Oww juice, which features carrot, apple, ginger and daikon, and the Green Lito smoothie with kale, peaches, banana and almond milk.

As it turns out, health and beauty went hand-in-hand with ingredients Pak grew up around. “There are ingredients like ashwagandha, Lion’s Mane, things that I would always come across in beauty products and supplements. It was fun to experiment with them,” she said.

The recipes for Pak’s juices change seasonally, depending on what’s available. She works closely with Lani’s Farm, a Korean-owned, organic farm that grows star ingredients like ashitaba, which starred in one of Pak’s concoctions last year.

“I noticed a lot of my customers were hung over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and in Korea, the ashitaba leaf is a cure for that,” she said. “I started off putting hot honey in it, for example.

“It’s so fun to experiment with the taste profiles and overlay — it reminds me of interviewing master perfumers and how they would describe creating a perfume, and the emotion and nostalgia behind it. All of those elements started seeping into Hi Noona,” Pak said.

Pak has introduced food to the menu as well, a direct request from her customers, starting with a selection of four dishes. Kimchi fried rice, bone broth, Yak Bap oatmeal and a vegan mushroom bowl. “They were always like, ‘when are you going to do food?’ Noona means ‘older sister to a younger brother’ in Korean, and I reached back to all my life, it’s the food we’d cook when we were home alone,” she said.

The menu additions were meant for her own benefit as well. “I get hungry working here,” she said. “And I’m just like, ‘Oh, God, not another smoothie!’”

Hi Noona: 515 East 12th Street; 718.450.5089

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