Another thing I miss about Seoul is the desserts, cafes, tea and cakes. The passion, the culture, the downright love toward sweets and drinks.
While many cafes in Stuttgart also offer breakfast, brunch and even dinner, cafes in Seoul mostly focus on “dessert.” Which means it’s pretty much divided: a brunch cafe serves brunch which includes both sweet and salty, a dessert cafe serves sweet desserts and a restaurant serves downright supper. (I have to say it is somewhat blurry now, but this is how I remember it. I almost never had brunch, lunch or dinner and stay at one place for a long time and just go home. We always went to a separate place for dessert.)
This starts at an early age, from high school to, well, forever. You can find everyone, from young high schoolers, university students, couples, young mothers with their babies/toddlers to middle aged ladies and men enjoying their lattes, espressos, smoothies, cakes, pies and sweets at cafes, no matter what time. There are cafes in almost every corner, which makes you think it’s a bit too much, but then you get used to the practicality and convenience.
독일, 특히 대도시가 아닌 스튜트가르트에 살면서 그리웠던 것 하나는 서울의 카페 문화. 디저트 카페라는 개념은 거의 없고 (적어도 내가 사는 스튜트) 카페라고는 하지만 브런치나 점심, 저녁을 모두 제공하는 식. 치즈 크림 케익을 먹고 있는데 옆에서 소세지 브런치 먹으면 냄새때문이라도 약간은 방해가 되는 사실. 그리고 굉장히 북적북적한 느낌이다.
I found that there are a lot of new cafes and small mini shops that focus on what they do very well, like chocolate, lemonade, ice cream and patbingsu.
I’ve heard so much about this new ice cream place called Softree. So of course I had to try it. It was quite easy to find it around Seoul and although it was chilly, there were a lot of people waiting in line to get a scoop. The first one opened in Garosugil in Sinsadong, which is now a fashion district. Founded by designers, its specialty is milk ice cream (this isn’t vanilla. It’s clearly the flavor of milk) with a honeycomb chunk on top.
그렇게도 대단하다는 소프트리를 갔는데 맛있었다. 디자이너들이 만들어낸 곳이라 그런지 뭔가 빈티지스러우면서도 세련된 느낌. 가로수길에 처음 생겼지만 지금은 신천이나 백화점 지하에도 있을 정도.
And yummy! The ice cream isn’t sweet so the honey and the chewy honeycomb seemed to be a perfect combo. Only except when it gets stuck on your teeth. So simple, yet so smart! I find it very irritating that it doesn’t have a decent web page. An easy one is in Itaewon, which is right next to the Italian pizzeria Sortino’s. You can also find it at the food courts of major department stores.
A old favorite: Mealtop. Red beans, also known as the azuki beans, are used for desserts in Asia. It’s different from the red beans we use in Mexican cuisines. Those are pinto beans. They look very similar, but azuki beans are a bit smaller in size and a little bit sweeter, hence dessert beans. Koreans use these beans as a paste too, and one of the most popular red bean paste dessert is “patbingsu.” Shaved ice (some places shave ice milk cubes) and red bean paste. Some places put different toppings, but if the bean paste is good, you don’t need much. I always try to have this as much as I can when I’m in Seoul.
삼성동 현대백화점에 밀탑이 생기게 해준 사람한테 찾아가 진심으로 감사의 마음을 전하고 싶다.
And then the very fancy and elegant cafe near Itaewon called Parlour. It was a little girl’s dream come true. Flowy curtains, elegant lamps, sofas, chairs and tables. Even the wallpaper was elegant. Apparently, Parlour is famous for its afternoon tea set, which includes a Kusmi tea of your choice and desserts. Very fancy indeed.
내가 가본 카페중에서는 가장 여성스럽고 페로몬을 마구 발사하던 팔러 카페. 내 자신이 저절로 여성스러워지는 느낌. 여자친구에게 자신의 센스를 뽐내고 싶다면 남자들이여, 이곳으로.
- Parlour (bottom floor of another popular dessert cafe and bakery Passion5 near Itaewon)
- Mealtop (located in Hyundae department store in Apgujeong and COEX)
All photos by rachelsanghee