[Kuala Lumpur] Alexis Cafe

Rocking the ghetto streets of Bangsar is this classy, off-the-beaten-track bistro cafe that has maintained its name with a fine selection of cakes and a sleek price to match. Not a conceptually-strong bistro, but Alexis banks its traffic on excellent word-of-mouth and high quality desserts.


  

Having heard a great deal about their Tiramisu, the 8 of us couldn’t resist getting a couple to share. Their fruit meringue and lemon tart were so darn amazing too.

With tasteful decor, scattered art pieces, white chairs and pale wood tables, Alexis needed little else in their concept to be a decent chill-out spot for afternoon tea. While the wall of wine bottles added a layer of sophistication, it was a tad lacking in the bar/pub factor. Nonetheless I loved how they stacked up all their collection so patrons could literally check the bottles out.
  

Again, random installations – this one is ‘crowdsourced’ since everybody could add their graffiti to the paper chandelier. It’s both sleek and rustic at the same time.
  
Ta-Da! Tiramisu & Fruit Meringue. Interesting how they glazed pecans and an assortment of nuts over the traditional tiramisu coating to create that crunch in your mouth that is oh-so-satisfying.

Nothing beats coffee and cakes with the best of friends. Totally did not expect these 2 to join our KL trip…till they literally surprised me by appearing in the hotel room!! They planned this all along for my birthday. What sweetie-pies!
  
  
More from that lovely afternoon.

 

A short snap from my snapchat above. Couldn’t bring out the tastefulness in Alexis (which coincidentally is one of our friends’ name). But all in all, the cakes were to die for. I’ve had amazing tiramisu cakes, but the uniqueness of this one was rather memorable.

29, Jalan Telawi 3,
Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[SINGAPORE] ASANOYA BOULANGERIE

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!

  

Asanoya Boulangerie
15 Queen Street, #01-03, Singapore 188537
Tel: (65) 6703 8703

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o15. VINTAGE ROD FAI

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

All things biker chic
All things biker chic
Vintage television
Vintage television
Lorries from another era
Lorries from another era
From before our parents were born
From before our parents were born
Vintage Chinese
Vintage Chinese

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For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
So old your nose will blow
So old your nose will blow
Coca cola signs
Coca cola signs
This still exist?!
This still exist?!
Route 66, US
Route 66, US
Old is gold
Old is gold
Rod Fai Gems
Rod Fai Gems
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
Leaving space
Leaving space
Pinball or something
Pinball or something
Vintage bikes...vespa?
Vintage bikes…vespa?
Mannequin.
Mannequin.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o14. SIX HANGOUTS TO HIT IN BANGKOK (FOODIES ONLY)

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.

Gram Cafe Thailand

Gram Cafe, Bangkok
Gram Cafe, Bangkok
Their lattes are not to be missed
Their lattes are not to be missed
Smoked salmon salad - my all-time salad of choice
Smoked salmon salad – my all-time salad of choice
What 5 Persons Ate
What 5 Persons Ate
Ovaltine Volcano Pancakes
Ovaltine Volcano Pancakes
Pulled Pork Burger
Pulled Pork Burger

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.

GRAM CAFE
1/F, 49 Terrace, Sukhumvit Soi 49, Bangkok, Thailand
Tue-Sun 9am-5pm
081-884-8554
Nearest Train: BTS Phrom Phong


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ROCKET COFFEE BAR – Brunch

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.

Muesli Yoghurt with Honey
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Eggs Benedict
brunch thailand
Salmon Roe and Crab Meat Toast

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.

Check out their menu here.

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


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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.

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Cookie Monster Cupcakes
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Red Velvet Cakes

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We had one of each: the strawberry shortcake is too amazing. The kitkat mud monster was way too chocolatey but if you’re a fan, it’s a chocolate heart attack.
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Marshmallows Rocky Road Waffles

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


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MANNA THAI – Rock Melon Sorbet

rock melon sorbet siam paragon manna thai

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.

Manna Thai
G Fl., Siam Paragon
991 Rama1, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
+66 2129 4555


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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.

Yummy oily thing
Carrot cake-ish mash up – oily but sooo good
Quail Eggs
Quail Eggs! Featuring my Batman-inspired nails.
smoky ice cream
Smoking Ice Cream
Street oysters
Street Oysters

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.

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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.

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PRE-SHELLED FRIED CURRY CRAB: Party in my mouth and heaven in a dish
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Deep fried sea-bass – just look at this meaty goodness
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Steamed and tossed mussels in onion and gravy. Hmm
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Darn fresh oysters! Gotta slurp ’em all
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Feast for Five
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Delish mango sticky rice

Somboon Seafood
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


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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.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

10 SECRETS TO GOOD SKIN

Shh… I’m letting you guys in on what I do to keep my skin minimally flawed and young-looking.

I’m not without vices – my lifestyle certainly does a great deal of harm to my skin. Constant travelling, difficult climates, dry-air in airplane cabins, late nights, sleepless days, junk food and irregular meals, social drinking and partying – all these adds to the daunting task of damage-control, and to maintain my current skin conditions.As I get older I’ve come to realize the importance of a good skincare regime. Party season has come and gone. January and February is the time for healing and pampering the skin you’ve subjected to abuse. Over the years I’ve tried many products, methods, and these are the ones I’m gonna keep:

 

1. CLARISONIC for cleansing the skin.
If like me your work requires a high volume of makeup, the highly raved-about sonic skin-care cleansing brushes works wonders unplugging clogged pores. I got hooked onto using my Clarisonic MIA ever since I got mine from L.A. and now it’s a necessity in my day-to-day regime. I get my replacement brushes (you’ve got to change them once every 3-4 months) each time I hit the States, since it’s way cheaper in SEPHORA USA. I don’t use fancy cleansing foams: a respectable store-bought brand like Innisfree, The Face Shop or Laneige would suffice for me. The rotating motion of Clarisonic brushes gives me all the reassurance that my skin is being taken care of.

 

2. SHEET-TYPE FACE-MASKS
At least 3 times a week I engage the usual suspects who take really good care of my skin: 我的心機 (My Scheming Beauty), 我的美麗日記 (My Beauty Diary), Innisfree, Etude House, Laneige, ODBO, Acwell. In under 25 minutes I can get a variety of results depending on whether my skin feels especially dry and tight, or oily and clogged.

I get them from COSMED Taiwan, Watsons Hong Kong, and from the big brands themself in Seoul. Try not to purchase them from online stores as there’re tonnes of scams out there peddling the fakes. Yes! Even face-masks are fake these days.
On days when I do apply my face-masks, I see visible differences.

 

3. SERUM LAYERING
Like lots of people I face the dilemma of deciding which type of serum to use. Well, it never hurts to layer them. I use a good combination of 2 – 3 serums (without toners, because honestly I fail to see the use of toners) from a customised variety. I love Vichy’s Idéalia Life Serum, Laneige’s White Plus Renew Essence, Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum and Turnaround Concentrate, Innisfree’s Green Tea Seed Serum, DHC Japan’s PQQ Up-Gel and Vitamin-C Serum, Bio-Essence Radiant Youth Essence etc. Just remember to leave a good 10-second gap between each application.

 

4. OVERNIGHTERS
I never let my skin go dry in the night. After the serum shots I plump up my skin with heavy creams, especially at night. I trust Vichy’s Idéalia Night Cream, Kiehl’s 24-hour Moisturiser, Bio-Essence V Face-Lifting Cream, and Laneige’s White Plus Renew Night Cream. In the day, I rely on just a thin layer of sun-block after the serum.

Confession: I have lazy days whereby I skip all the serum and face masks steps and go straight to sleeping masks. In those instances, Laneige’s Sleeping Mask and Vichy’s Night Detox masks come in really handy.

 

5. COLLAGEN BOOSTS
I’m a big fan of Meiji’s Amino Collagen, but I find it troublesome having to dissolve it for ingestion, and for travellers who don’t always have the luxury of luggage space, powdered collagen is a hassle. Kinohimitsu’s pack-of-6 BB Beauty Drink (Blended Bird’s Nest with Acerola Cherry) is a shot of collagen I take every few months. In between these courses, I try to take SATO’s Hakubi White C pills which are way easier to take around the world with me. Honestly, this seller at Qoo10 sells Kinohimitsu at a way cheaper price than I’ve actually seen in Japanese pharmacies.
A colleague once told me that collagen takes effect from the day you start taking them, so your skin is preserved from the time you begin to ingest collagen. Do yourself a favour and start early! You don’t have to take them everyday but once in a while, the stuff does wonders.

Confession: I dissolve my Meiji Collagen in coffee to replace my milk and creamers.

 

6. TEAS TEAS AND MORE TEAS
My favourite BB Detox Tea from Kusmi Tea is my go-to morning drink (in place of my regular cappucino) after every late-night party accompanied by drinking. Also on my list are Pukka’s Detox Tea from the UK, and Arifoğlu 9-in-1 (Arifoğlu Dokuzu Bir Yerde 9 in 1 Karışık Bitkisel Çay) from Turkey. It’s no secret: green tea, yerba mate, rosemary and thyme are great for your skin in the long run. They also give you plenty of hydration, minerals and anti-oxidants.

 

7. OMEGA-3 FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS
No way you can do without this. Unless you live in Norway and eat fish for breakfast lunch and dinner, all day everyday. I’ve only recently started to take them on a daily basis and discovered good small changes to how my T-Zones no longer secrete sebum so unwontedly and frequently.

Confession: I love smoked salmon, cooked salmon, fresh sashimi, raw salmon, steamed salmon and salmon with buttered, battered crusts. Basically anything salmon, but I suspect that has little to contribute to good skin in the long run if you’re always eating them pan-fried or oven-baked.
8. MULTIVITAMINS
This is another no-brainer. Without the essential vitamins your body simply cannot function. When the basic functions go into hibernation mode, your skin condition is compromised. So help yourself: take your daily multivitamins. I go for ALIVE! Women’s Multivitamins or Centrum.

 

I’m sure way more females have extensive skincare regimes and secrets. Do share and I hope these are little tips to pick up along the way. Your skin doesn’t get any younger. I don’t have the most perfect skin, but I try.

Viktoria Jean Li

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 040: KOREAN SULBING 설빙

SULBING gets a new location in downtown Hongdae! 설빙, loosely translated into 雪冰, is the Korean traditional shaved ice dessert. What this cafe does better than most – instead of plain tasteless ice, the dessert is prepared with creamy, frozen milk flakes. Coupled with some piping hot coffee, what the menu offers is basically perfect for tea break in warmer seasons.

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The milk-and-red-bean shaved ice comes with almond and nuts shavings, sweet injeolmi (soft mochi cubes), red bean paste and loads of milk! It has become a strange routine of mine to have shaved ice for breakfast, since the weather in Seoul hasn’t yet begun to turn cold. Nothing beats a cold bowl of happiness to start the day!

At Sulbing you will be able to get the traditional injeolmi bingsoo as well as unconventional creations such as sweet potato, caramel coffee, blueberry red bean, blueberry and cheese, and mango cheese bingsoo. Cafes in Korea always make me feel spoilt for choices.

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The store is a 3minutes walk from Hapjeong Station (Subway Line 2 and Seoul Subway Line 6), across the road from Hongik Children’s Park. Totally convenient and easy to locate. Go forth and conquer!IMG_3517.JPG

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KOREAN SULBING 설빙

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 039: CAFE LEEMAN’S COLLECTION KITCHEN 리맨즈홍대점

An afternoon at Cafe Leeman’s Collection Kitchen in the Hongik University vicinity. Hongdae is by far my favourite spot for chilling whenever I’m needing space and anonymity without being physically solitary. In this part of town you could be surrounded by throngs of milling university students and still feel comfortably ignored. You know what I mean?

Anyhoo, Cafe Leeman’s is on Hongdae’s main busiest street. The cafe’s chirpy yellow-on-blue signage is both a touch of class and a breathe of fresh air from the overpopulation of low-budget, hipster-wannabes. I wasn’t hungry as yet, hence all I had was an earl grey milk iced-tea. Slow to serve as they had hit their peak 5pm rush-hour, I waited a full 15 minutes for my tea. Meantime I managed to get a few snapshots in. Thankfully, the artsy-fartsy people of Hongdae were just the right people for an over-enthusiastic Asian snap-a-holic (with a huge red camera) to blend in with. Am loving Leeman’s laid-back interior, it still manages to keep the Leeman’s brand a cut above mainstream indie coffeehouses. If you’re looking for good food, clean tables and a good cuppa, this is the place to be.

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Cafe Leeman’s Collection Kitchen 리맨즈홍대점

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 038: CAFE BELLA PRAHA

One truly amazing (albeit solitary) afternoon at Sinchon and Ewha Women’s University (Edae), I chanced upon Cafe Bella Praha, one of those down-to-earth coffee places tucked away in an alley off the beaten track like a well-hidden secret. Had my craving for ice-cold desserts satiated with a matcha green tea bingsoo topped with red bean paste, and was pleasantly surprised that the toppings thoughtfully came in a separate dish, so you could actually control how much to drown out your ice-matcha. Might I add, the matcha did not taste syrupy – it had that fragrant taste of fresh brewed matcha in an ice-cold bowl. You know how much I love matcha desserts? This one really exceeded my expectations!

Bella Praha only hires the best. The barista (or was he the boss?) was so soft-spoken, gentle and thoughtful. Seeing as I was alone, he personally took my order, at the table, and ensured I had a cup of water with sufficient napkins. Only in Seoul, baristas get my heart aflutter!

Well, expect only the best of coffees from Bella Praha. To the barista’s credit, I overheard his lengthy, patient explanation to an elderly couple on the difference between coffee beans from different regions of the world. To tip the scale, you get to choose the brewing method for your coffee: espresso, hand drip, cotton-flannel drip, syphon, or Dutch style. Plus, there’s no lack of pastry choices from the cafe’s hand-made selection. This place is so worth a second visit, just to feel like a princess in a sweet homely coffeehouse.

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벨라프라하
56-63 Daehyeon-dong Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
02-363-3559

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 037: SHOPPING AND CAFE CULTURE ON EWHA WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY STREET

Sinchon and Ewha Women’s University (also known as Edae) is a district bursting with youthful vigour. You will love this place if, like me, you have a thing for affordable vintage labels, understated hairpieces, independently designed jewellery, and in general quirky finds. That aside, if you’re looking for loud colourful accessories, branded and no-label patent leather bags, or even rock-chick and gothic outfits, there’s also a healthy range of specialty stores catering to very unique requests and needs!

Street stalls and independent shops open for business as early as 9:30am, while students from neighbouring universities begin their daily pilgrimage to their campus. Snacks and all kinds of knick knacks are sold from cubicle sized push-carts, mostly to tourists and youngsters bypassing on their way to school. With no lack of mani-pedi boutiques, salons, beauty clinics and pampering studios, I could spend a leisurely week living in this area if I had the luxury of time. There’s just so much to do and see! Contrary to popular belief, Ewha is not strictly a women-only zone – more than a handful shops do cater to fashion and retail for men.

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The famous Gigantic Pink Shoe outside Top Ten @ Ewha: tourists scramble to take photos with this
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Singapore Toast is gaining some fame: this place was jam-packed!
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I liked the fact that big brands are slotted in with independent labels and designer couture – a refreshing mix of high end with retail stores that doesn’t burn a hole in the pockets of poor university students (I know that life).

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You know you’re in a hippie place when cutesy stores sell everything and anything – hairclips, incense burners, furniture, desk organizers, placemats, braded rugs, coffee mugs, bookends, laptop covers and passport holders. All done while maintaining its cutesy demeanour.

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Cafe culture in Korea generally thrives in university districts – Hongdae and Edae are very prominent examples of coffee paradise. Edae’s collection of indie coffee houses feeds throngs of students needing their daily caffeine fix. On this day I happened to chance across Caffe Zudy, a large scale Westernized coffee house with a couple of franchises across Seoul. My iced latte was more bitter than any coffees I’ve had in Korea, meaning they used a darker roast and also zero syrup in their drinks. Pure coffee and milk. I think my tired body enjoyed the shot of caffeine. I liked it.

Caffe Zudy Ewha University

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No lack of cafes in the area: see what I mean?

Caffe Zudy 카페쥬디 이대본점

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 036: ROYAL MILKTEA ICE @ A TWOSOME PLACE 투썸플레이스

My kind of breakfast in Korea tends to swing towards unconventional. On this particular morning, I happened to be in a mood for an ice-cold treat. During the summer / fall season, Koreans love their patbingsu – shaved ice desserts with toppings such as chopped fruit and nuts, mint leaves, coffee or milk tea, condensed milk, fruit syrup, and red bean paste. A Twosome Place 투썸플레이스 offers the Royal Milk Tea Ice which is basically a mountain of ice in a fish-bowl, drenched in milk tea, condensed milk, and topped with cereal, granola bits, and a scoop of milk-tea ice cream. My fish-bowl sized happiness looks like this:

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To say I have a sweet-tooth is an understatement. I mean, who eats this for breakfast?! I spent my morning (before heading to work) with Jane Green’s old book (Bookends) and my icy companion.

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You’ve got to try this, everybody.

A TWOSOME PLACE | 투썸플레이스 @ D-CUBE CITY (SINDORIM)

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MELBOURNE] oo6. 65. DEGREES CAFE

65 Degrees Cafe is a retail outlet for Gridlock Coffee specialty coffee roasters – masters of latte art and which offers a vast range of blends and single origin coffee beans. I wasn’t there for coffee, though, as I’ve only recently experienced some nasty side effects of caffeine overdose.

Winter in Melbourne has its way of chilling right to the bone, and a bowl of 65’s soup of the day with fresh baked bread and buttered toast warmed me right up. This place was actually recommended to me by an old Australian couple I spoke to on the flight to Melbourne, whose favourite pastime includes sipping cappucinos alfresco-style. I’m not entirely sure of what 65 is famous for. If you ask me, the interior’s not exactly pretty and the menu has nothing special at all. The spinach, potato and zucchini soup was great (a tad on the greasy side in my opinion), and its toast was crunchy with hints of asian spice. If you aren’t too particular, the food’s not too bad for a cosy sidewalk cafe in Melbourne’s busiest district. That aside, the cafe is run by a couple of Asian ladies with very ready smiles and quick nimble hands. Their hospitality was fantastic and I figured that is what makes 65 Degrees an incredible place.

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[MELBOURNE] oo5. THE LEAGUE OF HONEST COFFEE

Darned long walk in the cold but all’s good after a cuppa flat white from Melbourne’s very own The League of Honest Coffee. Waking up from a 3 hour nap straight off a flight from Singapore to Melbourne (during which there’s no rest at all), the caffeine hit was my fire-place in subzero winter. Australia has indeed amazing coffee brewers, as a Kiwi acquaintance once told me on a brief exchange of words onboard another flight. A warm mixed berries muffin later, I was convinced that League was way too underrated.

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Big enough for social gatherings, yet cosy and subtle in its choice of furnishing, League proved to be just as great a place for coffee runs, brunch or tea break, as well as collecting your personal thoughts if you ever should need a quiet space.

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We all know that orgasmic taste of moist, warm muffins…this one’s unbeatable! The mixed berries exploded on my tongue while the melt-in-your-mouth muffin dough was just the right level of softness. So. Good.

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Coffee is life, that’s all I’ve gotta say.

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The League of Honest Coffee
8 Exploration Ln
Melbourne VIC 3000

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MELBOURNE] oo4. WINTER SNAPSHOTS

What’s great in Melbourne, besides taking photos with koala bears and trying not to get ass-kicked by kangaroos in their local zoos? . Just walk around the central business district and you’ll be surprised by all kinds of quirky finds. Hipster cafes, graffitied streets, an alley dedicated to pub-crawlers, giant chess pieces for challenging an opponent you’ve never met…the list goes on. Winter does not stop Melbourne from being still one of the best places to be.
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I have a confession to make: I’m into grocery shopping. Australia is my favourite place for stocking up big-time on coffee and cereals. Their supermarts boasts the craziest selection of bottled juices and smoothies (that effectively kills snacking urges, because it’s just too damn hard to say no to one of the world’s yummiest gummies (Starburst!) and chocolates (Haigh’s), both of which are classic buys when you’re in this part of the world. Unless of course, you’re a Special K Addict and your luggage is jam-packed with boxes of these stuff.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[ROME] GRAN CAFFE ROMA

Breakfast was pepperoni and salami pizza at the Gran Caffe Roma via Vittorio Veneto in Rome, Italy. Alfresco dining in the morning summer breeze gave us plenty of room for people-watching, which brings me to remembering the blatant stares we’d throughout our journey received from patrons of pavement cafes and restaurants. Sometimes I wonder if we’re the first Asian species that these people are seeing. We too have 2 eyes, a nose and a mouth, no? The cafe interior was lovely, the servers were surly (clearly not morning people) and for an Italian joint the food bland and disappointing. Coffee, though, was the only yummy thing. Nonetheless the pizza, beef lasagna and bacon&cheese sandwich managed to satiate our ginormous need for carbs.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Cafe aA Design Museum | 카페 aA 디자인 뮤지엄

Imagine my joy when I finally found my way to Cafe aA in Hongdae!
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“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.

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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.

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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. 20140413-165626.jpg

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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’.20140413-165725.jpg

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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.20140413-165843.jpg

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Check this out: Big Bang’s TOP contributed this vintage metal bench to aA Design Museum!20140413-170031.jpg

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Selfie time in the creepy basement where I was all alone.20140413-170105.jpg

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. 20140413-170118.jpg

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aA Design Museum
서울시 마포구 서교동 408-11
Mon – Sun: 12:00 – 24:00 
http://www.aadesignmuseum.com

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Gabae Naru | 가배나루

Hiking around Chungjeongno 충정로동 revealed many surprises about Seodaemun-Gu. First, I managed to catch the splendour of spring flowers at Dongnimmun, and was then awed by the grandeur of South Korea’s Independence Gate. Not forgetting Seodaemun’s Prison History Hall, reminding us all of mankind’s ceaseless war amongst ourselves.

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).

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After much snooping around, I discovered the Gabae Naru brand is creative brainchild of one Ham Soohyun, mastermind behind concepts of various other coffeeshops.

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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. 20140401-133255.jpg

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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. 20140401-133425.jpg

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Let’s go see what’s on the upper floor shall we?20140401-133441.jpg

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Basically, the second floor is dedicated space for smokers. 20140401-133514.jpg

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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.20140401-133541.jpg

Gabae Naru 가배나루
348-1 Chungjeongno 3(sam)-ga
Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Cafe Joenill | 카페 조에닐

20140401-125835.jpg 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. 20140401-125840.jpg 20140401-125846.jpg 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

Coffine Gurunaru | 커핀그루나루

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.

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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).
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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!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Cafe Comma | 카페꼼마

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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I cannot emphasis how much I loved this tiramisu enough!! 20140401-125306.jpg

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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!

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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!

마포구 동교동 155-27 1층 (2호점), Seoul
+82 2-323-8555

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean