Category: Cafes / Takeaways / Bars

C27

I’m not sure if you will believe this, but this year I didn’t have a birthday cake. A tragic tale I know, but it ends very well because my very wonderful friend Lizzy offered to cheer me up and take me the land of cake, a magical place in Sinsa that offers 27 different kinds of cheesecake! There is nothing like a dazzling array of wondrous desserts to put a smile upon your face, and forget your troubles.

The dessert cafe is set over four floors, a true tower of cake filled goodness. The main cafe is on the first, making it easy for you to order your drinks and desserts, then you go and find yourself a seat and wait for your order. While every floor of the cafe is different, being two rather lazy ladies, we settled for the ultra comfy sofa nook in the back of the first floor. However there are dozens of cute selfie spaces  strewn throughout, just check out this mannequin and beauty mirror combo, obligatory selfie taking girls included.

Life is full of hard decisions, and none so hard as choosing which of the 27 different cheesecake we were to try. Since my companion was the president of the cake club and much more experienced than I when it comes to desserts, I left the decision up to her. It was for the best as I was getting carried away, if I had had my way i would have tried them all. A dream that one day I hope to fulfil. On the drinks side they offer the usual assortment of coffees and a teas, plus a couple of yogurty type smoothie things and wine. Nothing that overshadows the cakes though.

In the end we narrowed it down to three. The Earl Grey, the Dutch Apple and the Chocolate Cherry Cheese all 8,800 per slice. All the cheesecakes are the same price which I think is a nice touch, and allows you to make a choice based on flavour rather than price. While all the cheesecakes were orgasmicly good, I’d have to give the Earl Grey my star prize. I never would have chosen this one but it was rather magical. The cheesecake itself was sweet and creamy and incredibly delicious. It was topped with a very light fluffy creamy topping, and had a tea flavoured sponge at the bottom. The Earl Grey flavour wasn’t particularly strong, but there was enough to give you a hint of flavour as the cheesecake melted in the mouth. Each of the plates comes decorated with a trio of grated cheeses, not sure if it really works but it is a playful idea, and I’m always willing to eat a bit of cheese.

Our second choice was the Dutch Apple (8,800). This one was topped with a very crunchy and sweet and crumbly biscuit topping, this made for a nice contrast of textures against the silkiness of the cheesecake itself. We also loved the chunks of fruit strewn throughout giving a fruity pop now and then. This one didn’t have a sponge bottom like the others, it had more of a pastry bottom instead of the sponge, which made it a little more like an apple pie.

Lastly we ordered The Chocolate Cherry Cheese (8,800), which was probably the most decadent of the three we tried. This one had a chocolate sponge bottom, and was topped with a chocolate cheesecake which was studded with little bits of cherry, then a layer of fresh cream, and finished with a thick layer of chocolate ganache.  This one was he sweetest of the bunch and very chocolatey, the chunks of cherry were nice when we found them but I would have liked a lot more. If you are a chocolate lover then this one is likely to be a winner, though there were at least half a dozen other chocolate versions too.

Overall you couldn’t find a better place for cheesecake. The array of flavours was incredible and the cheesecake was excellent.  The cheesecakes are baked but have a similar silkier smoothness to the non baked ones that are more popular in the UK, so I especially enjoyed them. The cafe itself is quite stylish and has plenty of room and is a nice place to while away an afternoon while enjoying some good desserts.This is the main branch of  C27 but there are several other locations, including a new one opening soon in Hongdae.

C27 is located at 545-12 Sinsa-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa station (line 3) and come out exit 8. Walk straight and take the fourth left (the one after Garosugil). Walk straight down this road, you will see C27 about four blocks down on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-544-9901 or check out their website.

Plant Cafe & Kitchen

As it is summer and we’re all showing an ungodly amount of flesh at the moment, I thought it might behove me to share somewhere that is a little bit more on the healthy side. So today, I will talk about the amazingness that is Plant, the vegan cafe and kitchen. Plant has been a stalwart of the vegan and vegetarian community for years, however their home was a tiny little place in a back alley location that you would never come across unless you were looking for it. Just recently they have moved to much bigger premises, which can fit a lot more hungry vegans. The old location is still there, and is now being used a Plant bakery.

The new plant restaurant is located in the old Left Coast location on the furniture street in Itaewon. They have really transformed the space and made it feel very homely with their plants and cute cushions while at the same time making it feel light airy and slightly tropical. I was getting a real Bali kind of vibe going on. The menu like the new location has grown too, and has some great new additions to it.

We started off with a drink each. I went for the Mango Coconut Smoothie (7,500), this was divine and a taste of tropical bliss, though I found the addition of coconut milk made it a touch on the pricey side. My fellow pals got a Kombucha (6,500), and the Power Green Smoothie (7,000)  which is made with soy milk. I know that many people struggle in Seoul to find coffees and drinks that are made with dairy free milk, and at Plant they have options with both soy milk and almond milk, which should be music to lactose intolerant ears.

My favourite dish of the day was the fabulous BBQ Jackfruit Tacos (12,000). These are the vegan version of pulled pork and while I have had them before elsewhere, these ones were by far the best I have ever had. The shreds of Jackfruit were charred on the outside and tossed in a tangy BBQ sauce. With the cabbage slaw and salsa and chips on the side they were very filling. I’m pretty sure that if no one mentioned it to you, you would have no idea they are meat free. Unfortunately they are only available on Tuesdays, so you will have to plan your visit accordingly if you want to try them.

For my lunch I ordered the Sesame Peanut Soba Bowl (11,000). This was a wooden bowl filled with soba noodles, sesame-peanut satay sauce, fried tofu cubes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green salad, and pickled slices of carrot and radish. The peanut sauce was very morish and I found the tofu was a nice change from chicken while the noodles were very filling. A good hearty lunch for sure.

Lastly we got the Plant Cheeseburger (12,500). There are three kinds of burger on the menu, but this one is my friends favourite. This one comes with the Plant veggie patty, vegan cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, pickled cabbage, sriracha aioli, and yellow mustard. I tried a bite and have to agree it was really lovely, the bun in particular was very good. This one might be even better than the vegan burgers they serve at Huggers. It also comes with a nice helping of fries on the side, because lets face it, who wants a burger without fries?

Overall we had a very enjoyable lunch. The tacos in particular were really something special, so I’ll certainly  be visiting again on a Tuesday. The new space has a great vibe and is very relaxing, and I’m sure absolute haven for the vegans of Seoul. Though we didn’t partake this time they also have some incredible vegan cakes and their previous location is now a full time vegan bakery.

Plant Cafe & Kitchen is located at 117 Bogwang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (Line 6) and walk out of exit 4, turn back on yourself and take the road on your left (the street where Taco Bell is) and walk straight. Keep walking on the same side you’re on for about 150 meters, Plant is on the right on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-749-1981 or check out their facebook page. They are open Mon – Thurs 11am – 9pm, Fri + Sat 11am-10pm, and closed every Sunday.

Rooftops in Itaewon

You’d think in a city as cool as Seoul, there would be a hell of a lot more roof top action going on, but thanks to the zoning regulations, or some other boring reason like that, rooftops really aren’t permitted here, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In the Itaewon area alone there are dozens of different rooftop bars to soak up the sunshine, with new places popping up all the time. Since summer has now officially started, I thought would share my top five favourite places to hang out and drink while catching a tan.

1.Southside Parlor – Not only does this Texan bar make one hell of a cocktail, they also have a pretty large and impressive rooftop going on. The whole bar has just undergone a complete transformation, but thankfully my favourite cocktail The Pimp Cup  is still on the menu. This is the Lone Star State’s take on the classic British cocktail Pimm’s. They also have awesome edibles like their highly addictive piggy chips and tacos.

2. Brick Yard – I can’t believe that Brickyard has just turned two years old, my how time has flown. The cocktail menu has changed quite a lot in that time and isn’t as fancy as it used to be thanks to my favourite barman leaving, but they still rustle up a refreshing drink and the rooftop is as bitching as ever.

3. Rooftop Bottle Shop –  Located above Sam Ryan’s, this self-service bar is an Itaewon institution. The rooftop is huge, and you can help yourself an amazing array of beers and ciders out of the fridge. They also sell liquor by the bottle, plus mixers and even provide ice and glasses. There is also food and snacks available for when you get peckish. Check out this facebook page for more.

4. Sonnendeck – Sonnendeck has an awesomely amazing rooftop filled with fake grass and huge giant bean bag loungers. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy some Sunday Funday. Some past events here include a La Marmite brunch pop up, and Drag Queen brunch, if that’s not a reason to get out of bed I don’t know what is. They also have parties that go all night too, this Saturday the amazing team behind Little Baja will be hosting a taco and cocktail pop up. Check out the event facebook page to see more details.

5. Hamilton Hotel – Right in the middle of Itaewon is the Hamilton hotel, which has its own pool that is open to the public for a small fee (20,000-25,000). The bar offers all manner of drinks and the tunes are pumping out all day. It gets insanely crowded on weekends so if you have your heart set on renting a lounge chair (15,000) come early. Most days it is open between 10am-6pm, but every Saturday in July & August they are having special all night parties. It’s the closest you are going to get to an Ibiza vibe in Seoul .

Scoff Bakehouse

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but for the past three years I have known about the existence of a British bakery, and have never been to visit it. Its located up in the depths of Jogno and not easily located by subway which always kinda put me off, I am a very lazy girl after all. However just recently they opened up a second branch which is still in Jongno, but a more reasonable walk from Gyeongbukgung station. It  is located in the most adorable area by Tongin-dong that is really worth a visit by itself. After hearing about the new location I knew I needed to go give it a try, but it wasn’t until some friends of ours brought some of the fantastic Scoff goodies to a BBQ that I hosted that I was compelled to go at the next opportunity.

Scoff is located in the most gorgeous cute and quaint neighbourhood, I have written about it before as it is home to my favourite croquette place Nalari, and Ellay’s Icecream (which is sadly no longer there as its moved to a different hood). The Bakehouse is set over several floors, with the main bakery on the ground, and then cafe seating up above, the most heavenly aroma wafted down the street as we approached and my mouth was watering before I could even feast my eyes upon the array of baked delights.

The bakehouse itself is very modern with a rustic twist. The whole place is filled with reminders of my very British childhood, from the old wooden art desk draws, to the old teapots and china chickens for keeping eggs in. The owner Jonathan told me that every time his parents come to visit they bring his another car-boot sale treasure to cement him to his heritage, and decorate the cafe. I was very charmed by it all.

The first thing that has to be talked about are the Sausage Rolls (6,000) which are so orgasmic we bought another two straight after devouring the first one. This really is the gold standard of sausage rolls as far as I’m concerned, I’m not even sure if I have had a better one back home. We make them ourselves quite often, but they cannot even compete with these bad boys. The sausage itself is short and stout, kind of chode like in appearance, but wrapped around the well but simply seasoned pork is a duvet of thick and and golden pastry. The layers in it are awesome, some of which cling on to the meat with all their might. I’ve always though good pastry has layers you can peel off and enjoy just by themselves. This was very filling, one was plenty to fill me up, so get one to take home for later, you wont regret it.

Now we have talked about the amazingness that is the sausage roll, we can talk about the cakes. The brownies are very popular and after sampling several I can see why, we loved the simplicity of the Scoff Brownie (4,000), but to me the stand out was the Raspberry and Cream Cheese Brownie (5,500). I am not one for foreign objects in my brownie unless it’s more chocolate, or an occasional nut, but the tart combination of the raspberries and the creamy swirl, was heavenly. The gooey fudgey texture of the brownie itself was enhanced by the pop and sweet tingle of fruit, and I almost found myself longing for them.

The Raspberry and Almond Tart (4,500), also must be mentioned, as it is kind of like an unofficial Bakewell Tart. The pastry bottom was perfectly crisp, the spongy middle was soft,moist and punctuated by more of those fabulous raspberries. My own mother made this regularly during my childhood, but I was never all that partial to it until now. Another popular item for Brits I’m sure are the Hot Cross Buns (3,000). The sticky glazed buns were perfectly spiced and sumptuously soft. It might not be Easter but I just couldn’t say no.

Being a cafe, they have an array of drinks for you to enjoy while having your cake and eating it too. I stuck with my usual Ice Vanilla Latte (5,000), while TFB went for their Scoff Lemonade (5,500). This was exceptionally good, nice and sour with a tickle of sweetness at the end. They also have a few fruity variations of it which also sounded delicious. I found the drink prices to be very reasonable and cheaper than most chain stores, especially considering they have a captive audience and could charge a lot more.

Overall I was thrilled with Scoff and am kicking myself for not going sooner. They have an amazing array of baked goodies that can be enjoyed by both Brits and non Brits alike. For those who are looking for delights that cant be found anywhere else in Seoul like sausage rolls, hot cross buns, Chelsea buns, carrot cake, lemon drizzle, scones, and the best brownies ever you need to plan a trip to Nuha-dong immediately if not sooner, this place is not to be missed.

Scoff is located at 90-2 Cheongunhyoja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gyeongbokgung Station (line 3). Come out of exit 2 and walk straight for 3-4 blocks until you reach Tongin Market, Its an adorable place filled with lots of traditional foods and is worth visiting by itself. Walk through then then exit the other side, keep walking straight down the road almost opposite and then take the first left, you will see Scoff just up ahead. For more information you can call them on 070-7761-1739 or check out their Instagram page. Scoff Bakehouse is open Tue-Sunday from 10am-7:30pm but I’d advise you to go earlier in the day to avoid disappointment. 

Mal Car

My neighbourhood of Gyeongridan is a treasure trove of unique and one of kind shops, bars, and restaurants. And one of its most hidden gems is my new favourite coffee shop Mal Car. Mal Car is a vintage automobile themed cafe, which is set over three floors and is full of quiet nooks and crannies to sit in. The place is festooned with all sorts of car themed knickknacks, even the outside tables are made from what looks like old bus doors. It is certainly a quirky place, and like no where else I have been before. It is located up on the Hyatt hill in a hidden residential alley, if it wasn’t for the sign on the main street you’d never find it, luckily I was invited so had the address.

It being a coffee shop and all, we thought we should start with a coffee. After placing our order we were given the most adorable shopping basket to help carry everything upstairs which I thought was a nice touch. I went for their signature Cloud Coffee (6,500), which is their version of the Vienna style, probably the coolest coffee in the city right now. I love creamy coffees so this was perfect for me, my only complaint is that I wish it had been sweeter, I would probably add a shot of vanilla syrup next time, but overall it was nice drink and coffee lovers should be impressed. My assistant Elizabeth ordered herself a refreshing Sunset Ade (6,500) to beat the heat. The colourful ade was super refreshing and had an almost sherberty fruity taste. We both really enjoyed it, but I thought it could be even better with a shot of vodka!

The Cinnamon Rolls are a speciality at Mal Car, so we had to give one a try. They have several different variations but we opted for the Original (4,600). Just looking at it, it was easy to tell why they are famous for them and boy were they good. Warm in the middle so the frosting kinda melted and you could sop it all up like a sweet and buttery gravy. The texture of the bun itself was super soft, and it had a good blend of spices without being over powering. Honestly I don’t think I have stopped thinking about these big bountiful buns ever since, they are addictively good, and not to be missed.

Besides the buns, Mal Car also offers a whole range of baked breads and cakes. After gazing over their dazzling array of desserts we decided to try the Humming Bird (6,600), as it was too pretty to resist. The banana and pineapple spiced cake was topped with a nice thick layer of cream cheese frosting and an adorable pineapple flower. The sponge had a lovely hint of pineapple, though I didn’t get much of the banana coming through. We both enjoyed the lovely creamy cheese frosting, and appreciated that it wasn’t too sweet. Being two very greedy girls we also got a Carrot Cake (6,200) too! This was really incredible, so moist and had a really nice balance of spices with a hint of orange. The cake itself was the star here, but the frosting was also good too. I was green with envy when eating this because it was even better than my recipe which I have always considered to be one of the best around.

Overall I thought Mal Car was a gorgeous cafe with fabulous cakes, breads and coffees. The Cinnamon Rolls in particular were incredible and I’ve not tasted one as good as this in Seoul before. The theme really sets it apart and there is seating inside and out. In a city filled with big chain places, these are the small places I love to support, so I will definitely be going back again soon, especially as it is very close to my house.

Mal Car is located at 48-10 Hoenamu-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.  To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass, go through and exit using the stairs on the left hand side. Follow this road around passing the church and Paris Baguette, walk up the hill towards the Hyatt. Keep going up the hill and look out for the Mal Car sign after you pass the big GS, its in a small residential alley way just after passing Baskin Robbins. Go down the alleyway and you will see Mal Car on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-790-2310 or visit their facebook page. They are open from Tuesday – Sunday from 1pm – 11pm

Ferry Roasters

If there is one thing that Seoul has no shortage of, it is coffee shops. Seoulites absolutely adore coffee and seem to spend an awful lot of time hanging out in their favourite cafes. So it is no surprise that the city is practically bursting with dozens of cute and quirky places to get a caffeine fix. And before I set off on my travels, I found the most charming one just next to my house that I couldn’t resist sharing with you.

The boat themed coffee shop is conveniently located opposite the fabulous Cre8 Cookies, making it the perfect place to grab a drink after picking up some baked goods, however the nautical theme is not the only specialty, they also serve the world’s most delightful donut topped coffees, yes donut topped coffee! You can have your donut and drink it too. The menu is quite small but I tried a couple of their specialty drinks along with a dozen of their marvelous mini donuts. I placed my order and went up to their fabulous roof top to enjoy the glorious weather that we were having. Though if you don’t like the sun, they have a more covered outdoor space on the main floor, or inside seating.

After about 20 minutes my order finally showed up, and thankfully it was worth the wait. The first thing I tried was the Salted Caramel Latte (6,900), I’m usually a vanilla latte kinda a girl, but the melted marshmallow topping on this coffee was too much to resist. I was at first concerned that the coffee would be too sweet for my liking however it was far saltier than sweet and mixed with the strong coffee it was actually quite tasty. The frothy melted mashmallows added a hint of sweetness and it was actually quite refreshing. So far so good.

My second coffee, yes I was all alone and couldn’t decide what to get so thought I’d treat myself to two instead, was the Tube Latte (6,500). This is the delightful little Homer Simpson donut topped coffee. You can have this served hot or cold, and in this weather over ice seemed very logical. This one was not at all sweet, I’m guessing that’s why there is a donut on top. It was incredibly precious and the coffee was strong, but I need my latte a touch sweeter than this so would ask for some vanilla syrup next time. It was also on the small side, so I’m glad I had two.

It being a weekend and all, I figured I would treat myself to a dozen their adorable mini donuts. There are two different flavours, cinnamon sugar, and basil parmesan. I decided to try both and got a half order of each (7,500). Donuts are a rare find in this city, at least outside of the big chains. These were made there and then on the spot, which accounted for my 20 minute wait. I loved having a mix of sweet and savoury, it is the best of both worlds. The cinnamon sugar were soft and fluffy in the middle while the savoury basil parmesan were addictively good and probably my favourites of the day, whoever thought of putting parmesan in a donut is a genius!

Overall I thought this pace was fab and I will probably come again to hang out on the roof top and grab some donuts. It is not the cheapest coffee in the neighbourhood but if you are looking for something a bit different or a cute place to meet friends than this is it.

Ferry Roasters is located at 225-22 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass, go through and exit using the stairs on the left hand side. Follow this road around passing the church and Paris Baguette, walk up the hill towards the Hyatt. After you pass the Happy Store keep an eye out for an alleyway on the right hand side and you will see Ferry Roasters on your left, just past Cre8 Cookies. For more information you can call them on 02-6015-2022. They are open Tuesday – Sunday 12:30pm -9pm.

Mangwon Food Crawl

Last weekend was absolutely beautiful and I used the good weather as an excuse to get out of the house and the hood to go and explore another part of this city I call home. For the best part of year I have been hearing wonderful things about the uber trendy neighbourhood Mangwon. Yet, despite it only being a 20 minute subway ride away, I always failed to get over there and check it out. For those not in the know, like I was, you are seriously missing out, this place is jam packed with cute and quirky cafes, stores, and restaurants. It’s kind of like what Haebangchon and Gyeongridan use to be like. The streets are quite spread out, but there is plenty to see once you head out of exit 2. I’ve listed five of my favourite places that we visited. though I’m sure there are thousands more to discover so I’ll be heading back soon to see what else there is.

We kicked off our morning with a coffee at Social Club Seoul. This is one of the coolest concept coffee shops I have ever come across, in the middle of the room is a giant table strewn with the detritus from a fancy dinner party. Think chandeliers and tea sets, then there’s a counter to the side where you order and they make the coffees. That’s it, they have simply built this in an old ripped out store front and people are going nuts for it. This place is selfie city, I think at one point every single person in the joint was taking one, myself included. I think the real draw to the place are their amazing, decadent, and delicious coffees. They have two signatures which we decided to try, and being an ice vanilla latte girl, I had to get the Short Cream Vanilla (6,000), while my girl Laura tried the Mocha on the Rock (6,000). Mine had ice cubes made from sweetened vanilla cream which just made it the most rich and decadent drink ever, while Laura’s mocha had coffee ice cubes and chocolate at the bottom, the more they melted the stronger it got. They were both pretty epic and it was just what we needed before heading to the next stop. One note, when we passed by again later in the day there was a definite queue so go before 12pm to avoid the crowds.  Social Club Seoul is located at 414-27 Mangwon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul . Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

After coffee we were in need of breakfast so we headed to Sally Cheong to try one of her delightful fruit and yogurt bowls. I’m a healthy kind of girl (some of the time) so this was exactly what I was longing for. The menu is all in Korean but it is pretty easy to figure out. The bowls of yogurt come with different kinds of fruit and muesli and are adorably cute and only 6,000 won each. The yogurt is made in house and the fruits change with the season but there should at least be a couple of options available. As well as the yogurt and fruit bowls they also have plenty of drinks available, like some home made ades and a ginger milk. We had just enjoyed a coffee so didn’t partake but they looked great. Sally Cheong is located at 21 Worldcup-ro 23-gil Mapo-gu, Seoul . Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

Our next stop was Viva Salon (비바쌀롱), one of my followers tagged me in an Instagram post for this place and I couldn’t resist coming to see it. I mean look at the adorably cute Cookie Monster Latte, I am still living for it, almost a week later. Also pictured is the Coconut Smoothie topped with a rubber ducky. The whole cafe is toy themed and the place is decked out with all kinds of cute and kitsch paraphernalia. It’s a must see. The Cookie Monster Latte was 5,900 and really tasty, as was the Coconut Smoothie (5,800) though we did add a large splash or vodka to it to kick it up a notch. Viva Salon is located at 84 Poeun-ro, Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

After all those drinks we were ready for lunch and came across Happy Burger. The line was long but the smell coming from the kitchen was too much to resist, so we wrote our name down on the list and went to get ourselves another GS cocktail while we waited. In 20 minutes our table was free and we both got ourselves a big ass burger and a side of fries. The burgers here were pretty impressive. I got the Double Cheese Bacon Burger (8,500) which was topped with bacon, double cheese and caramelised onions. The bun came came slathered in their homemade garlic mayo which I adored. It was very moreish and the kind of burger you want to inhale. Laura opted the Arugula Burger (8,900) which was equally delish.  This was exactly what we needed after a few too many cocktails, and i will certainly be going again next time I visit. happy Burger is located at 414-83 Mangwon-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

Lastly, we took a stroll around Mangwon Market to burn off those burgers.  It’s a covered arcade style market with loads of different stalls selling street food , fresh meat, fruits, veggies and other bits and bobs. Living in Itaewon I don’t come across these traditional markets often so it was nice to see, and it’s amazing how cheap some of he prices were. At the end of the market are two famed croquette stalls which had crazy long lines. I was desperate to try one but didn’t have room after that massive burger but next time for sure. Mangwon Market is located at  411 Mangwon-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

JL Dessert Bar – Cherry Blossom Pop Up

Last weekend was I was invited to a very special event at JL Dessert bar, a place I have been meaning to try for ages. The event was in honour of the majesty that is Cherry Blossom season. In Korea, nothing says Spring like a walk along the river, and fighting your way through crowds of other eager beavers trying to get the perfect selfie with the elusive cherry blossoms before they wither away and die. Since I don’t do so well with crowds I figured this seasonal dessert pop up was much more my bag.

JL Dessert bar, is located near Gangnam District Office station and is unsurprisingly a bar that specializes in cocktails, wine and desserts. What a novel idea, for many people dessert is the best part of the meal so why not skip ahead straight to the good stuff? It’s also ideal for those on a first date who don’t want to risk sitting through an entire meal. Our event was a one day special promotion for cherry blossom season which cost 45,000 for 2 people. this included three desserts and wine pairings, plus a few special spring goodies.

Our first dish to try was the Cherry blossom special, which was a sweet mix of cherry blossom, strawberry, blueberry, lemon and white chocolate. First of all I adored the personal plating, I love anything with my name on it. The star attraction of the dish was the white chocolate orb, that when broken into revealed a sweet and creamy mousse which reminded me of candy floss. Paired with the fruit and broken shards of meringue it was a real melange of tastes and textures. It was rather impressive. The wine paired with this one was a Blueroth Riesling, a sweet and dessert wine which really enhanced the dessert.

Our second dish was the adorable Petit Gateaux, this was probably my favourite of the desserts. Again a soft exterior but with a biscuity crunch at the bottom and lovely layer of strawberry jam, this was so scrummy, I was a tad upset to be sharing it. This one was paired with a German Brut, I think we all know how much I enjoy a glass of bubbly so this was ideal for me, and it was nice to have something to take the edge off the sweetness of the dish.

Lastly we ate the stunningly beautiful Cherry Blossom macarons. These were pressed with a dried cherry blossom which was such a lovely touch.  Again I wish there had been more, I could have eaten them all afternoon long. These we paired with the Vampire, Merlot rose, which i think might have been my favourite of the three wines, although it might have been because I was a little bit tipsy by that point.

Overall we had a fabulous afternoon, I felt very grown up going for dessert and wine tasting. They are planning to host similar pop ups in the future which  shall certainly keep abreast of, but for the time being they also have an a la carte menu where most of the desserts cost 15,000, or a set menu of 4 courses for 40,000 which I’m sure you could share between two. All the desserts also come with recommended cocktail pairings too.

JL Dessert Bar is located at 14, Seolleung-ro 120-Gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gangnam-Guchon Station (line 7) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight and turn right the first chance you get. Walk straight for three blocks and then go left. You should see JL Dessert Bar just ahead of you on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-543-6140, or check out their facebook page. They are open from 12pm-11pm everyday.

Brooklyn Bagel Cafe

Last weekend I decided to embrace the spring weather and get my fat arse out for a workout. Much to his dismay I dragged TFB out with me too. After a bracing walk around the park and quick sop at the HBC Ogari fruit and veg lady we headed back down. For being so virtuous I thought we were both in need of reward so we stopped by Brooklyn Bagel cafe on the way home for a treat. The small store is located at the far end of the main drag of HBC almost opposite the CU. Up at the counter is a menu and a refrigerator full of different cream cheeses and 8 different flavours of bagels. The cute cafe has seating inside and out which is always a plus on a sunny day.

After much deliberation, I decided to go for one of the sandwich style bagels and settled on the Chicken Salad (4,000). The best thing about this sandwich is that they let you choose your bagel, and after looking at their selection I went for the everything bagel. The bagel was nice enough, and it came stuffed with a rather nice chicken mayo and a little bit of salad. For 4,000 it was definitely a bargain, you rarely find a sandwich that is under 5,000 these days and although it was small I think most people would be satisfied.

TFB true to form opted for the Salmon with cream cheese (6,000), probably because he knew I wouldn’t ask for a bite. He got his salmon on a jalapeno bagel which personally I thought an odd choice but each to their own. I didn’t actually try this, as you know my feelings about salmon well, especially stuff at the cheaper end of the scale. But he said it had a nice flavour, and there was plenty of salmon with a little bit of zing from the red onion. He agree that the bagel was decent for the price, though wouldn’t have noticed that it was jalapeño flavoured.

Overall I cant say its the best bagel I’ve ever had, or even the best one I have had in Seoul, so I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. However if you are in HBC and in need of a sandwich style snack on a budget or fancy picking up breakfast for you and your latest Tinder hook up then its worth swinging by especially if you are up early or on a walk of shame because it opens at 7am.

Brooklyn Bagel Cafe is located at 44 Sinheung-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6). Walk straight out of exit 2 for about 200 meters and take the first left and walk straight along the road with all the kimchi pots. Keep walking straight along this street past Phillies and Casablanca, you will see Brooklyn Bagel Cafe up ahead on the right hand side next to 8 Piece. For more information you can visit their facebook page. They are open every day from 7am-8pm.

Root

I like to consider myself a healthy eater, (seriously lol). I believe in the ying-yang approach, super healthy followed by super unhealthy to create balance in an otherwise unstable world. Now while I spend most of my time looking for Seoul’s more fattening fair, and reserve the healthy stuff for home I do enjoy a nutritious and delicious meal out and about once in a while. For the past few months I have read dozens of good reviews for Root in Hannam-dong, so after putting on some serious weight due to sheer laziness on my part, I figured it was about time I got back on the wagon and gave salads another try.

The cafe is located at the Hannam end of Itaewon, an area I often fail to visit, but hosts a whole load of cute and quirky places. The restaurant is located just off the main drag on the second floor.  The place is very white, light and airy, and makes you feel virtuous just walking into it. It also has a mix of indoor and outdoor seating which is a real rarity in this city. I’m sure come summer this place will be a packed to the rafters with sun worshippers try to get their beach bodies in shape.

The menu is located up at the counter where you will need to order your food, and has a mix of salads, sandwiches and Korean inspired dishes. After much humming and hawing I decided to order the Avocado Toast (8,500), since both of my dining companions had ordered salads. I really liked this dish a lot, I mean avocado and poached eggs is always a winner, and it came served on a lovely thick slice of toast. The bacon added a nice saltiness, and the cherry tomatoes a little acidic zing. My only complaint is that I wish the portion was double the size, but if you are a light eater this is ideal. Slap a mimosa on the side and you’ve got brunch, although as Root doesn’t serve alcohol you will have to bring your own!

As well as my Avocado toast I thought I would treat myself to a smoothie. They have two on the menu and I went for Orange, Banana, and Greek Yogurt (6,500). This was really disappointing, first the way it was served was just quite sad. They make an extra effort to put their water in biodegradable cups then serve their rather expensive smoothies in cheap plastic cups. The whole thing was utterly tasteless too, I was so uninspired I could barely bring myself to take a photo of it. Be sure to give it a miss.

One of my dining companions went for the Green Bowl (12,500). A mix of chicken, kale, romaine, avocado, cherry tomato, Parmesan cheese, Parmesan chips, and Caesar dressing. Honestly this was alright, but nothing to write home about, it was a nice enough salad, with a good ratio of ingredients but it didn’t really have me longing for more. The dressing was a bit wishy-washy too, I like my Ceasar dressing to really sing to my taste buds.

My other gal pal about town ordered the Red Bowl (13,000) which consists of chicken, brown rice, romaine, avocado, corn, black bean, salsa, sour cream, mozzarella and cilantro chipotle dressing. This was definitely my favorite of the two. A little bit more flavour from the dressing but again not a salad I would go out of my way for. She also ordered a bowl of soup on the side, which looked good, and she seemed to enjoy.

Overall I’m not really sure if Root lived up to its hype. I’m certainly happy to see more of this style of restaurant opening in our neighbourhood, though I don’t think the salads here were as good as the ones at nearby What A Salad.  I did however enjoy my dish, and I’d be happy to give a few of their sandwiches a try. I’d certainly be open to eating here again if i was making an extra effort to be healthy.

Root is located at 2F 741-19, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hangangjin Station (line 6) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight along this road, then take the second right. Walk straight along this road and you will see Root on the second floor in the right hand corner above Bistro Al Li. For more information you can call them on 02-797-9505. They are open everyday except Tuesday from 11:30-9pm with a break between 3:30 and 5pm on weekdays.