If like me, you had imagined ‘Toast and Roast’ to be a brightly lit cafe with piping toasts and artisan coffees, then you’re in a surprise. KL’s Toast and Roast is a distinctly traditional coffee-shop serving old-school teas, best-for-a-hangover hot Honey-Lemons, chewy Hakka noodles, bouncy beef ball soup, and what they became famous for – roast pork / chicken. When your foodies friends make the recommendations, you know you’re in good hands. It was there that I had the best charsiew ever. So as I popped my first caramelised, melt-in-your-mouth charsiew, I must have died and went to charsiew heaven.
See that plate in the middle? It’s the charsiew.
Don’t think about the fats you’re consuming, because fighting this is a losing battle. Put tht first piece in your mouth and you’re hooked. Okay, but seriously I could taste the layers of fats, and thick caramel sauce, which makes it sooo good. Usually my friends and I are a bunch of locusts sweeping across a harvest field when it comes to food, but we couldn’t finish the meat at Toast And Roast. This servings here were for our party of 8. Guess we’re not big eaters after all, or they’re really just generous with their portions.
For all fans of wanton mees or whatever mees, this bowl of Hakka noodles will get to your sweet spot. It’s all kinds of chewy without making your jaws ache. Don’t let the meagre pieces of minced pork fool you, cos there’s a whole heap underneath! So, so good. Look how happy my friends were with their food.
More about the other dishes: I’ve never been a big fan of meat processed into balls, aka fishballs/meatballs/chicken or egg balls, because I’ve always felt they weren’t au naturale. What even goes into ’em balls nobody knows. Nonetheless I found myself liking the bouncy beef balls that came with the soup. It’s tender, and didn’t taste like supermarket frozen meatballs. With that said, T&R also serve a mean iced white kopi, which is basically what all South Malaysian food places are good at making. I’ve not had a bad kopi anywhere in Malaysia.
Toast And Roast
No.20, Jalan SS2/72 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, 47300, Malaysia
Couple of weeks ago, I had an smashing time at 313 Somerset’s Cocoa Colony. Literally, with a hammer to prove. It was a party both in my mouth and stomach at the media event – from liquid cocoa taste tests, to making our own chocolate desserts, and smashing their signature bolas. My inner chocoholic was in heaven.
Ain’t no new kid on the block, Cocoa Colony’s beans have been around since the 1800s. Barely 2 years since their first flagship store, 6 other stores have popped up island-wide at The Star Vista, Great World City, The Cathay, Suntec City Mall, Shaw Centre and City Square. While the chocolate cafe idea’s pretty well-endowed in other countries, thus far, Max Brenner and Cocoa Colony are the only big players here.
So we got to try their signature drinks menu: Cocoa 38 smelt and tasted a lot like fragrant diluted Milo; Cocoa 76 was my favourite as it isn’t too sweet or thick (loved it!); Cocoa 100 was like viscous molten chocolate which was a bit hard to swallow but to each his own. Some of us loved the 100. Naturally, Bailey’s rock every drink, so Bailey’s Cocoa inspired my new cocktail mix: Bailey’s Milo Dinosaur.
We were also really lucky to get a taste from the Amazonian Liquid Gold chocolate tap! (Oh gosh thank you) Imagine a beer tap and you get the idea – we got our fill of white and dark chocolate from a free-flow tap possibly connected to underground tanks of chocolate like a well-kept secret.
Moving on to their mains, Cocoa Colony’s smaller portions might not be satisfying for those seeking a filling meal – it’s however perfect for tea. Savoury sides were fantastic companions to our sweet escapade, so something to munch on never hurts.
Pictures here we go.
So we smashed a bola or two:
the crispy inners were like Chinese biscuits – the really yummy ones that only surface annually at Lunar New Year house visits. Satisfaction at smashing balls – great stress relief don’t you think?
For true-blue cocoaholic-converts out there (which I trust you soon would be), these gorgeous Cocoa Colony paraphenalia are available in-store at each and every outlet. (customised chocolates for us! Thank you Cocoa Colony. Much love) At some point in life everybody needs wisdom, wealth and love advice. But chocolate trumps all.
Went back for a cocoa fix just this week! We tried the Iced Hazelnut Cocoa, and the Iced Cocoa Shakerato. According to my friend, the former tasted like melted down Ferrero Rocher. So, so dope.
“This is our way of celebrating the great city we live and work in. Where others see nothing but debris and stone, we see the possibility of a truly life-enhancing experience.”
– W6 Creative Director Paul Holt.
I was pleasantly thrilled to be amongst privileged writers notified of the grand opening of W6 Garden Centre Café. This gem of a coffeehouse takes centerstage under the rail arches of Ravenscourt Park tube station, promising a soothing experience that will whisk you away from the trains running just metres above, by bringing a piece of old London back to life.
Judging from this hearty menu, the cafè can expect a long list of returning patrons. Nuala O’Connor, who previously worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries Cafe, helms the kitchen. To quote her directly, ”I want to see the cafe become established as a favourite for local people and a lovely discovery for new customers. We already serve fantastic coffee; I would like to match that with simple but delicious fresh food made with great ingredients, some of which we are even starting to grow ourselves in our herb garden.”
Yes, from a luxuriant herb garden, no less than a foliage in the interior to potted ferns on your dining table – these little green details makes W6 a perfect place to get in touch with nature. Just looking at snapshots of the greenery brings a sense of peace – who would not love these lush overhanging plants and walls of mossy bricks?
Getting super excited by these photographs courtesy of David from W6 (thank you). I don’t usually write about cafés which I haven’t personally been, but this is too lovely not to share!
Am definitely adding this to my bucket-list on my next trip to London!
W6 Garden Centre Café
West Six Garden Centre & Cafe Ravenscourt Avenue
London W6 0SL Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 8.30am – 5.00pm Sat & Sun: 9.30am – 6.00pm
I must confess: I’m a breadaholic. My favourite home appliance is my bread machine, and preferred choice of breakfast is always flour-based. So the pastry-maniac in me jumped for joy when I finally popped by Asanoya Bakery, and 81-year-old brand founded in Karuizawa Japan.
The place is absolutely haven for all dough-lovers out there! With the abundance of seats it could jolly well serve as a cafe. The boulangerie is ready for business as early as 8am, but their signature Karuizawa Matcha Green Tea Bread doesn’t appear till 10. If that happens, stay calm, take a seat and have their royal milk tea loaf in the meantime. Their mean selection of salads comes in petite Asian portions which are just right to go with your dough. To ogle at pastries and sweetbreads please continue to scroll…
I’m in love with these cubes, not to mention they are absolute darlings in the mouth.
Tiramisu in bread = more than I can bargain for!
The royal milk tea loaf tasted like it was soaked and glazed in frothy tea, which, for a tea-lover like me, was killing two birds with a bite as I could eat and drink tea at the same time. The maple walnuts pretzel was slightly more savoury, though too crispy and hard in certain parts. I’m still looking forward to coming again, and trying every darn thing eventually!
40 miles north of Bangkok lies Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, capital of Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. Ayutthaya Kingdom was destroyed in 1767 by Burmese army who took down the city. Ayutthaya, like Rome, has since left most of its ruins within sight. Officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is its Historical Park, whose ruins were a peek into the kingdom’s past grandeur.
Dia and Ake drove us on a daytrip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. The journey could have taken way longer (by means of Thailand’s inter-city railway) than our tranquil 1.5 hours drive to the country side which I truly enjoyed. Having lived in a city all my life, the drive was akin to entering a timezone ungoverned by conventional rules of time. I was fascinated by farmers in paddy fields seeming to move in slow-motion, accustomed to a lazy pace of life. The last time I’ve ever immersed in such a slow-moving city was during a layover in Mumbai, India, but even then I was concerned by and paranoid of the city’s hygiene. Here I rolled down my windows to let unfamiliar country smells invade my olfactory senses. The experience was truly rural and underrated.
With Dia and Ake, our tummies were in for a treat. Along a stream that leads to Chao Phraya River, we located Yang Deaw Restaurant, a local eatery well-known amongst the natives for grilled river shrimps.
An old lady, aided by 2 others only a decade younger, took our orders, prepared the seafood, grilled the prawns, chopped the vegetables, served the dishes, iced our tea and washed the dishes in a small pantry; hence service was, like everywhere else in the country, slow. Oddly enough, us city-dwellers never for one second lost our patience. I contemplated going to the kitchen to help mince the pork and skewer some prawns.
Highlight of the meal: river shrimps! In all its fresh glory. Caught right off coast at neighbouring streams surrounding Ayutthaya. When de-shelled, these shrimps were almost the length of my forearm (note: I have long limbs)
We left Yang Deaw feeling like our lives was complete, then we drove further north, nursing an intense food coma with tonnes of iced tea. One of our major pit-stops was Wat Panan Choeng temple, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, part of Ayutthaya Historical Park. Fervent Thai Buddhists usually made it a point to journey to this temple to pray for the best of luck on New Years and special occasions. The Golden Buddha statue is known as Luang Pho Tho, who stands at 19meters tall.
We were there for a ceremony on that particular day – Thais were flocking in to pray for good luck for the coming year (2015). Fervent Buddhists purchased golden cloth to ‘clothe the Buddha statue’. We purchased one each and handed the golden sashes to a temple staff, who then proceeded to mumble his blessings, before tossing the golden cloth to 3 pairs of waiting hands standing on Luang Pho Tho who would catch the cloth, tie them to the existing length covering Luang Pho Tho. During the ceremony, Buddhist monks would then chant a long series of words in Thai. We joined the fervent Buddhists in kneeling at the Buddha’s feet with our heads bowed. When the time came, the monks and temple staff began throwing the tied cloth back at us and people in the front started pulling the cloth for us people at the back. The cloth went over our heads as a symbol of protection and having us ‘covered’. After we were all draped in gold cloth, the chant went on in Thai for about 5 to 10 minutes, before we returned the cloth and made our donations to the temple.
The first of my posts on Ayutthaya had touched on aspects of local food and Wat Phanan Choeng. In the coming posts I’ll be sharing on other places to visit in Ayutthaya, including the famous ‘Buddha head in tree‘ featured in many travel guides on Thailand. Stay tuned for more!
Yang Deaw Restaurant
5/1 Moo 4, Tambon Ban Len, Amphoe Bang Pa-in, Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya
Talad Rod Fai, Bangkok, is an open-air bazaar peddling an insane array of vintage collectables, quirky kitsch and memorabilia from yesteryear. Since its move in 2013 due to an expansion of the BTS Skytrain line, its reappearance at the new site accommodated a bigger, more international crowd. I loved the old Rod Fai next to the train tracks, where shop-owners displayed their wares on floors or did business right out of 1950s Cadillacs. The new locale is posh, less rugged than before, while retaining signature vintage elements.
Shopping was way down on my list of priorities as opposed to capturing these on camera.
“Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself.”
― Josh Lanyon
Perks of having native Thai friends – they’ve tried it all and only take you for the best. I had the honour of my Thai native friends’ undivided attention 5 days in January this year. Knowing us (foodies who were through with tourist traps in the big city), the pair of them took us gallivanting through Bangkok for the best F&B. Here are 6 of my favourite picks,
✡ GRAM CAFE – Brunch
Nestled within the trendy streets of Sukhumvit 49 near to Thong Lor is GRAM Cafe, featuring an open-kitchen counter and a pretty garden where you dine. Highlights of our meal: ovaltine volcano pancakes dripping in chocolate fudge and ovaltine powdered goodness. Also loved their latte: I’m a sucker for hand-drip coffee.
Outdoor-dining only meant there were certain elements of nature interrupting our quiet brunch: flies, mozzies and leaves falling into your coffee. But when your bill arrives all’s good again, since a Bangkok hipster brunch is one of the most affordable in the world.
An uber-chic hangout for hipster lunch in the up and coming Sathorn area; the best flat white in town makes this the expats’ choice on the weekends. Save yourself the best seat by the window when you make reservations! Rocket is well-known for their artisanal coffees – I fell so in love with their iced latte that I had to have two.
Their eggs-ben weren’t fantastic and drool-worthy so don’t bother if you’re hunting for the best food in time. Come here for a cozy meet-up, and to immerse in a chic up-town environment.
Rocket Coffee Bar
147, Sathorn Soi 12, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
+66 2 635 0404
Monday to Sunday 7am – 11pm
Nearest station: BTS Chong Nonsi
✡ MR JONES’ ORPHANAGE – Cakes, waffles and all things sweet
Named after a renowned children’s book, Mr Jones’ Orphanage lives up to its name with teddy-bear strewn interiors, low-hanging ceilings resembling children’s bedrooms, and quirky cutesy dessert creations. We ordered a round of cakes and rocky road waffles after heavy-on-the-savoury-buds lunch – the kick on our sense of taste was incredible. Mr Jones’ is a sweet-tooth’s haven.
With more than one outlet, the cafe still gets crowded. Save the wait and make reservations!
Mr Jones’ Orphanage
2nd Level, Siam Center
Rama 1 Road, Bangkok, Pathumwan 10330
11:00 am – 10:00 pm
✡ MANNA THAI– Rock Melon Sorbet
Situated at the basement level of Siam Paragon is an outdoor paradise, where the food isn’t spectacular but they serve a mean rock melon sorbet straight out of rock melon skin. A hand-drip latte goes well enough, and together we’ve got tea-break for the high-soul in Bangkok. Dining in is great, but the view outside is better. If you’re into people-watching this is your little heaven.
Rock melon sorbet is highly recommended.
G Fl., Siam Paragon
991 Rama1, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
+66 2129 4555
✡ CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET – Street Food
Don’t waste your time and money if you’re hell-bent on eating clean in Thailand! Street food has too much flavour and life in it, so who cares what happens in the kitchen right? Eating straight from street stalls gave me a genuine taste of Thailand – where the culture stands, and what the people enjoy in their spare time. Here, flavour is key (as lovers of uber-sweet Thai Iced Milk Tea can vouch for), and Thais are big on traditional spices. Meet some of my favourites from the all-time touristy Weekend Market of Chatuchak.
Shoppers are advised not to waste any time stopping to ogle at street food if intent on covering every nook and cranny of this 32.91 km² maze. Shopping can be endless in this god-amazing place, but some things are just not up my alley, especially when the weather’s too hot and I’ve been here more times than I bothered to count.
✡ SOMBOON – Seafood
The best place for fresh seafood fix in Bangkok: my all time favourite dish is the fried curry crab which comes in a fuss-free pre-shelled form so all you need to do is scoop it up, eat it with rice or fried bread! Do not exclaim “so cheap!” each time you select a dish or you’ll end up sounding like a bird. Yes, seafood is seriously affordable here.
895/6-12 Chula Soi8, Bangthadthong Road | Wang Mai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
11:00 to 23:00 Daily
0-2216-4203-4 or 0-2214-4927
Stay tuned for more adventures in Bangkok, as I’m always back for more. I’ve got too much affinity with the Land Of Smiles, it seems.
Imagine my joy when I finally found my way to Cafe aA in Hongdae!
“Seoul Design Spot” identifies 250 unique architectural creations or designer venues selected by 100 famed designers. Cafe aA Design Museum is a European-style hangout which falls under both museum and cafe categories. I was really excited to hunt for this chill-out museum.
The cafe currently occupies the ground floor of the 5-storey building, with the basement still under construction. The remaining floors showcases designer furniture, fashion, and art.
A while ago before heading to Korea, I came across these pictures and decided I just had to see this urban chic coffeehouse and view their art gallery! I’m not much of a big eater, but I snack heavily. This place provides really light bites (nuggets, pancakes, salads, risotto) and a good range of coffees for the after-work socialites, and the university kids looking for a conducive study cafe.
My dream came true in the form of Kahlua Cinnamon Ice – coffee with Kahlua topped with milk, cinnamon flavoured syrup and cinnamon flakes! At a reasonable price of 6,500 KRW, it totally made my day.
According to the owners, the lowercase in ‘aA’ stands for art, architecture, and alive. The capital A is an unchanging value, that one can expect ‘the best a person can get’.
The interior seems pretty bright over here because I’d adjusted the colour but it’s actually pretty dark inside. The walls are a grungy mix washed-out greys and chipped tiles, which I really loved because stepping alone into Cafe aA felt a tad spooky as if I’m paying a visit to a haunted house. Various elements funkified the dark atmosphere – designer coffee-table books and artistic pamphlets.
Check this out: Big Bang’s TOP contributed this vintage metal bench to aA Design Museum!
Selfie time in the creepy basement where I was all alone.
Best thing about this cafe? Its sheer size. It’s impossible not to find a seat, or you could always order up, take a walk in the gallery, then come back and get yourself a table. Am totally in love with this place.
Out of the blue comes this charming red cafe all white-washed walls and scruffy front yard, with a deservingly quaint name! Gabae Naru does legit hand-drip coffee, and mostly serves nine-to-fivers from neighbouring high-rise corporate offices (as far as I can observe).
After much snooping around, I discovered the Gabae Naru brand is creative brainchild of one Ham Soohyun, mastermind behind concepts of various other coffeeshops.
Mostly, the interior is peppered with keepsakes and mementos belonging to the cafe owners. Anyone can help themselves to the books on display. I especially loved the owners’ scattered polaroids of friends and customers. Goes to show that owning a cafe is indeed a personal and very sentimental affair.
I love a place that can fix a good cuppa iced cappucino. The espresso is hand-dripped, blended with ice, then frothed with a layer of milk. So much work goes into making it instead of pouring pre-made coffee over hot milk, then adding ice, which is basically what the big names do.
Let’s go see what’s on the upper floor shall we?
Basically, the second floor is dedicated space for smokers.
Such a lovely hidden gem in a busy part of town, way too out of the way and underrated. This would be one of ’em cafes that locals frequent, and the occasional tourist stumbles upon.
Gabae Naru 가배나루
348-1 Chungjeongno 3(sam)-ga
Late night shopping at Hongdae with iced peach tea leads to planting thy ass at this comfortable hideout, tired out from endless sights, walking with wedge-heels, and very fascinated by observations I get from people watching at Cafe Joenill. Also, it had been drizzling, and I still wanted to keep my nose. Earpiece-plugged, this was the time I fell in love with EXO’s Peter Pan (the only song from their album I actually can’t stop listening to). I can only hope nobody in the cafe noticed my feet tapping to the beat. Nightfall sentimentalises all my favourite semi-emotional songs. xoxo, Viktoria Jean
So this is one of ’em chain coffee-stores that also offer legit mojitos and cocktails, where I tasted one of the best sweet-potato lattes I’ve ever had! Purple’s their defining colour. I’ve only so far tried one of their beverages. Everything else on their menu is the same as any of the other chain coffeehouses.
Was grabbing a hot drink before battling the cold spring weather on my way to Deoksugung at City Hall. This Hongdae franchise is the only one I’ve been to, given the amount of time I had, and usually it’s crammed up besides the other cafe giants like Caffe Bene, Coffee Bean, Starbucks and the likes, hence much neglected (by me).
On the day I decided to give this a try, it was incredibly empty at 10 am as the university kids were probably at school. Then again 10am isn’t exactly an ungodly hour, since the cafe is open 24/7. I pass this cafe every night while going back to my guesthouse and it really fills up past 10pm. Kinda reminds me of my own late-night uni days!
For book-lovers like myself, this is somewhere akin to heaven! With a two-floor occupancy, this cafe boasts more than 3,000 books stacked from floor to ceiling, with a ladder allowing visitors to peruse the books on higher shelves.
Run by Munhakdongne publishing group, Book Cafe Comma is known in Seoul for its investments in talented young writers. Most books in-store are sold at half-price. Some of them are not even available anywhere else!
What you see on sale are not restricted to those published by Munhak. A couple of popular English fiction (Fifty Shades trilogy – what’s new) were spotted in its midst. Books aside, I also loved the gorgeous interior and comfortably dimmed lighting.
At 7pm in the evening on a weekday, the place seemed deserted. On the upper deck however, loads of serious faces were mentally attacking their textbooks with wrath.
What they had on offer was pretty limited but trust me, the tiramisu was one of the best I’ve ever had! The square slice looked home-made as it was cut from a panned box, fresh from the refrigerator. Heavy on rum and espresso, the cake was not too sweet and very moist (I hate dry / flaky tiramisu).
I loved the ambience on the upper deck – it’s so conducive I wish I’d brought my laptop with me. The level of silence is adequate for sounding out your own thoughts, yet not mind-numbingly eerie.
I cannot emphasis how much I loved this tiramisu enough!!
In close proximity to Seoul’s top art university, Hongdae is home to a myriad of quirky hipster cafes. Cafe Comma is definitely up there on my list of favourites and cafes to re-visit when I go again in summer!
There’s also a separate reason why I love Cafe Comma i.e. tall and good-looking artsy-fartsy guy with laptop and books spotted. Teehee ^^
홍대 북카페 ‘콤마’에서 잘 생긴 남자를 봤어. 키가 크고 좋은 피부를 가지고, 그는 책을 읽고 있었다. 완전 내 스타일 ^^ ㅋ ㅋ 난 돌아올거야!
When I take my coffee black with no sugar, I know I’m tasting the results of seriously good cocoa beans. If like me, you loathe the acidic aftertaste that only milk or brown sugar can eliminate, and you would much rather down a dozen cups of cappuccino or caffe latte over multiple espresso shots, you’d be glad to know that gourmet black coffee can actually be sweet and very delectable!
At Cafe Miz Moren, there are no espresso machines. Every cup is vacuum-brewed using the siphon brewing method. These coffee makers are really cool-looking hour-glass shaped tubes with a bottom container where water is heated, a top container that has a siphon tube attached to it where the coffee brewing takes place, and a filter made of glass, paper, metal, or cloth. Unlike hand-dripped coffee, upon heating, siphon-brewed coffee is vacuumed into the top container, thus somewhat ‘defying gravity’ in the process!
My Ethiopia Yirgacheffe G2 with distinct aromatic floral tones in the aroma, and light, flowery non-acidic aftertaste. This went down so smoothly without any tinge of roasted rough bitterness.
In addition I love how the cafe offers a selection of interesting blends, highlighted in their menu along with acidity levels and iconic tastes. The Guatemala Antigua SHB is “smoky & spicy with unique acidity”, whilst the Tanzania Peaberry is described as having “deep richness – a bright pleasant flavor with mild acidity”. There’s nothing interesting about its interior as siphon brewing is the cafe’s main draw, along with its amazing blends. Loads of Korean cafe blogs also recommend their in-house Miz Moren Blend!
Food on their menu, totally overlooked in my quest to try all their coffees! But I failed, because it was evening time and that cuppa kept me awake for half the night. #totallyworthit
Their famous siphon-brewing coffee makers on display, with the siphon brew masters at work. This is not a cafe, it’s a laboratory.
Honestly, I will never take Starbucks Americano ever again.
Doubling as a furniture store, Paul & Lina’s is a place patrons do purchase chopping boards and pepper shakers with sweet potato lattes. The sign says it all: furniture, fabrics, coffee and desserts. Though small, this underrated cafe seems loaded with ornaments and homeware for sale. The owners are a homely couple with an elementary school son who was being tutored by his mom the evening I chanced upon the area (having walked from Sangsu Station).
You know that feeling, when you walk into a place, instantly to feel a lot lighter and happier? This place gave me good vibes!
Almost everything you see are saleable items! The cafe owners also have an online store where you can view these beautiful woodwork and home deco pieces.
I would love to have that blue tea mug! Its too adorable ^^
For such a large coffee diner, there isn’t much seating room – just 3 of these two-seater tables and a living room space with plush cushions and sofas for larger groups of people. Most customers came for beverages to-go and woodwork items. For an hour or so it was just me, and a guy on the laptop tapping away in the seats behind. With such privacy and seclusion I’m surprised so few are attracted to this place!
날씨 추운지만: 아이스 유자차!
음료를 즐기면서, 난 책을 읽고 있어요.Iced cold Yuja-Cha for the winter-like spring.
Quietly set on a higher ground of a double-storeyed house, I hardly noticed Paul & Lina’s existence. This sign pointed me to the right side of the alley, a short walk up from Sangsu Station. Tucked away in such seclusion, I do hope it’s not just a cafe that furniture enthusiasts only would know of!!
413-18 Hapjeong-Dong Mapo-Gu, Seoul
주소：서울특별시 마포구 합정동 413-18
Weekdays 주중 : am 11:00 ~ pm 11:00
Weekends 주말 : am 11:00 ~ pm 12:00
P.S. I miss Hongdae so much!! I’m back home from a week of spring-time in Germany, but I would give anything to be walking on cherry blossoms in Jeju right now.
Post-lunch coffee at Cafe 5Ci Jung is akin to spending the afternoon at a friendly neighbour’s home. A very warm welcome awaits you the moment you step through its doors, right up till you leave its premises. Each barista made an effort to greet every guest, and never seemed to stop smiling. I was further impressed when the lady boss bothered to ask me what my coffee preferences were, before she took my orders at the counter.
I especially loved their cutesy deco pieces! !The homely warmth makes me want to sink into their cosy chairs, all day long. Its interior is unbelievably spick and span – I swear there’s literally not a speck of dust in sight.
I believe a whole lot of thought went into choosing these trinkets and ornaments which fits like pieces of a puzzle in the entire cafe’s concept – a romantic, playful and vibrant home environment.
I also felt as if I were back in elementary school…or perhaps I’ve found my way into a life-sized doll house! Miniature flowerpots, rainbow-coloured paintings, fresh white walls and smooth cherrywood furniture – it’s a really refreshing place to load up on caffeine and food or simply to recharge yourself!
Buttery and crisp homemade scones are served on the house with any beverage orders, completely free-of-charge. My usual afternoon cafe latte arrived with an entourage: scone and Mr Lego-Man.
These homemade scones were simply heavenly, along with butter and apple custard sauce. Only in 5Ci Jung you get hospitality like this. Thoughtful table placemats, and an accompanying gift of a mini Lego is what made me fall in love with this whole presentation.
With franchises in Samcheongdong and Garosu-gil, the novelty of Cafe 5Ci Jung is worth experiencing for yourself. I can’t express how much I wish I could be back at this cafe right now! Yes, it feels as intimate as my living room.
My first shake-em-up Korean lunchbox meal, also known as dosirak 도시락! At Star Cafe Miss Lee (별다방 미스리):
I didn’t exactly shake it, because the lady who served my lunch told me I didn’t have to unless I wanted the egg yolk to explode, and I dislike my rice soaked in yolk. But damn, this was sooooo good.
Miss Lee Cafe is where Seohyun and Yonghwa met on Season 2 of We Got Married (우리 결혼했어요). For many Koreans, dosirak brings them back to the 70′s and 80′s when parents prepared little metal containers of rice, kimchi, luncheon meat, kelp and other goodies!
It’s located right above GS25, which you will see not long after stepping out of Anguk Station Exit 6.
I love the way they paved the stairway leading up to their diner. Everything is so vibrant and cutesy, it left me starry-eyed. I knew I was definitely in the right place.
Just as I’d pictured, the place was messy and picturesquely homely. Tables and chairs here are downsized too! Somehow being here gives you a sense of privacy, with all the overhanging messages and ceiling decorations, you can’t see the people on the other side of the restaurant.
The diner is also spammed / decorated with messages to and from Korean celebrities.
It was exactly 11am when I reached Miss Lee Cafe, and they had just opened their doors to their first customers – a couple on a date, and I the solo venturer.
And so I ordered their iconic dosirak and a cup of rosemary tea.
My lunchbox arrived with Korean dessert-snacks and seaweed soup!
I loved the lunchbox set! I guess kimchi makes rice taste so good, and top it off with eggs and seaweed…you’ve got yourself a winner. Plus the novelty off Miss Lee Cafe has been upped after its popularity shot through the roof with YongSeo couple on We Got Married. There’s no need to emphasize how this is a must-go for Seoul-enthusiasts!
Even their menu is so pretty ^^
Just look out for this sign when you exit Anguk Station and reach the head of Insadong!
Miss Lee Cafe 별다방미스리 인사동점
Daily 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Along the glorious and vibrant district of art museums and galleries are laid-back cafes offering all-day breakfasts and a myriad of flavoured coffees. In close association to the indie Hannamdong Cafe Street, coffee culture in Itaewon is self-directed and expat-friendly. Expect top-notch Americanos and loads of Seoul Design-Spot cafe galleries! Here are some of my favourites!
[04:00 PM] Walked across Hannamdaero Bridge to Jamwon-Dong (at Sinsa-Dong and Gangnam district). I loved the insanely strong winds! Nobody else was on the bridge. I was walking against the rush of traffic and enjoying the sea breeze. Will post pictures of this soon enough.
[05:00 PM] Explored Jamwon-Dong all the way to Banpo Station. This was an insanely long long walk, but absolutely refreshing!
[06:00 PM] Sat down for dinner at Banpo Station. For the first time in my life, I ATE SOONDAE 순대!!! Basically it’s blood sausage, made by boiling or steaming cow or pig’s intestines that can be stuffed with pork blood, fermented soybean paste, glutinous rice, kimchi, and soybean sprouts. Best thing of all, I hadn’t realised it was Soondae ): It tasted really good though. But now as I recall what it actually is…eurgh!!
[06:45 PM] Travelled back to Hapjeong Station (Seogyo-Dong district at Hongdae) for more cafehopping adventures
[09:30 PM] Late-night shopping at Hongdae!! For an entire week, I did this every night before heading back to my guesthouse. Hongdae only gets fired up after 9PM, especially on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. So much shopping to do, so little time.
[12 Midnight] Bought Kimbap from No.1 Seogyo BapJip for supper!
홍대에서 아침 식사
Breakfast was too good to be true!! Had the most amazing BerryNana waffles from Thanks Nature Cafe 양카페, Hongdae’s first and only sheep cafe, before making my way to Itaewon. Only in Seoul, you get to dine with a lamb! Strawberries + Bananas = BerryNana. My morning is complete with a cuppa peppermint tea.
Itaewon’s over-the-top architecture propels the casual pedestrian into a distant future. Stepping onto a set of a science fiction futuristic movie must feel like this!
Love the exterior of this Starbucks – so much effort goes into designing it.
The exterior of a hotel:
The further away you get from the artistic galleries of Hangangjin, the buildings get less dramatically sci-fi. Loads of cafes thrive in this area, for many expats that work in Korea live in this district of Itaewon.
Walked the entire length of Itaewon to Hangangjin station, before diverting to art museums that require an uphill climb. This is where I visited the gorgeous LeeUm Samsung Museum of Art.
There are 2 separate galleries within, showcasing traditional Korean art and contemporary art. In both, photography is banned. This place is definitely worth visiting. Museum 1, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, houses the national treasures such as folk paintings, ceramics, manuscripts and traditional stoneware. Museum 2 is the masterpiece of French architect Jean Nouvel, boasting of permanent exhibits by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Donald Judd. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas designed the Samsung Child Education & Culture Center.
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
10:30 am – 6:00 pm
The inspiring pieces from Museum 2 really had me filled with awe, whereas Museum 1 gave me the chills. Ancient art is too profound and somehow unreachable to me, in the sense that the millenium-old items show another chapter in human history that will always be a mystery to mankind, no matter how hard our attempts at recreating or reimagining the unknown era.
I left the museum deep in thought, having been exposed to such great inspirations. I headed next for Hannamdong Cafe Street, but found that I’d much preferred Itaewon’s bustling roadside cafes. The cafes at Hannamdong are small, and most of them were takeout cafes which didn’t provide much indoor seating. Itaewon is, all in all, a westernized zone, home to far-flung imaginations and art in all its re-created beauty.
In my next update, I’d bring to you some of my favourite cafes in Itaewon-dong ^^