Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Café hopping in Seoul @ Seoul, Korea

After 2 failed attempts to visit some unique-themed cafes in Hongik University area and another at Ewha University area (found the cafes but apparently they are no more in business), I decided to forego the idea to visit more of these cafes due to my limited available time. Although the unique-themes cafes are interesting, as majority do not offer attractive menu, I felt that they are not able to last long (it's more of just a trend). Hence, I decided to visit cafes that are more well-known in Seoul (majority with a few branches) and offer not only good ambience but good food and beverages as well.

Korean Dessert Cafe Sulbing(설빙) - Myeongdong stores (cafes are on 2nd floor)
Patbingsu (red beans with shaved ice) is a famous summer dessert in Korea. New cafes however have created modernised versions of this dessert with different toppings. Sulbing is a trendy, Korean dessert chain cafe originated from Busan, that offers various bingsu, toasts and drinks. Their best recommended items are the Injeolmi Snowflake Sherbet (Injeolmi=a type of rice cake) and Injeolmi toast. Currently, they have set menus which are well-worth it if you plan to try a few of their items at one go. 
Set A: Injeolmi Bingsu + Injeolmi toast + Korean sweet rice drink (12000 won)
The thinly shaved ice with sweetish Injeolmi powder, chewy cubes of rice cakes and almonds topping is definitely a unique, tasty treat that one must try in Korea. The shaved ice and Injeolmi powder practically melted in the mouth. To make things even better, sweet milk (a more diluted version of condesed milk) is provided in case you prefer it sweeter. The Injeolmi toast was just as good; toasted bread with chewy rice cake filling and Injeolmi powder topping. They have quite a variety of bing su and toasts on their menu, so, if you have the chance, try the other variations as well such as the mango and cheese cubes, and strawberry bingsu
One of the branches in Myeong-dong; close to the Myeongdong Tourist Information Center
Another Sulbing cafe branch in Myeongdong
On our last night, we headed to this cafe again (but another larger branch in Myeongdong), to try the sweet red bean porridge (danpatjuk), a Korean cuisine commonly eaten during winter. Compared to the usual porridge that contains chewy balls made of glutinous rice flour, the Sulbing version had the chewy rice cakes separated from the red bean soup which I thought was a splendid idea. The porridge is a little bit too thick to my liking, and one can easily get filled up quick (sharing it with a friend would be better idea).
Sulbing's cafe menu
O'Sulloc Tea House - Gangnam store
O'Sulloc Tea house is a themed cafe specializing in authentic Korean traditional teas particularly green tea. I met up with my school buddy who is currently working in Seoul for a Gangnam night out. After dinner, we headed to this tea house for some dessert. We ordered the green tea ice cream, green tea tiramisu and a cup of hot green tea. The green tea ice cream definitely topped my list of green tea ice cream - for its pureness of the green tea (without overpowering the ice cream) and smooth ice cream (next best I've ever tested would be Häagen-Dazs'). While my friend loved the ice cream, I actually prefered the tiramisu green tea which was really good as well. Instead of having coffee powder topping, this was topped with green tea powder. A small portion dessert that can be easily finished by a single person without feeling sick of it at the end:). We had a great night of non-stop chatting and eating!

Beans Bins Coffee - Hongik University branch
This chain cafe can be found all around Seoul and boasts an array of specialty coffee and waffles. I skipped breakfast that day in order to try out their signature ice cream waffle. Thick waffle with generous portion of fresh cream, 2 scoops of  Häagen-Dazs ice cream of your choice, strawberries and banana as toppings. While the ingredients used are nothing special, the combination was brilliant. The warm thick waffle melted the toppings a little bit which gave the 'oomph' when you're eating it. Something else quite common in Korea is the used of sweet potato in their desserts and beverages. I also tried their sweet potato latte which was awesome. Frothy milk with sweet potato flavour (something like green tea latte but with sweet potato instead). Unfortunately, I was unable to finish everything…what a shame. Nice place to hang out with friends and to share a waffle:)
Signature ice cream waffle and sweet potato latte
Hongik University branch on 2nd floor

Hollys Coffee - Ewha Women University branch

Caramel macchiato
This cafe very similar to Starbucks / Coffee Bean and can easily be found around in Seoul as well. Ewha Women University area generally has less cafes compared to Hongik (Angel-in-us will be opening soon though). I finally spotted this coffee place on one of the narrow streets off the main street. Again, this cafe is on the 2nd floor so just look out for their signboard. I only had a coffee here as I actually wanted to just take a break from walking outside in the cold. A nice coffee place to hang out in the afternoon and people-watch (lols).

Paris Baguette Bakery Cafe 
This was at 10 pm!
You will find this bakery practically everywhere in Seoul. A cafe cum bakery which opens until late night. Best of all, despite it close to closing hours, there are still plentiful selections available. I usually get something here for my breakfast the next day:)
Ok, I definitely had more than this but I forgot to take some photos of them though..lols..

Sanmotoonge Gallery and Cafe - Buam-dong
Perhaps some of you might recognised this cafe (the filming place of k-dramas Coffee Prince and My Princess). I've decided to blog this cafe on a separate post (blog post here) because of its uniqueness which puts it on top of the rest of the unique-themed cafes in Seoul. 

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